The Story of a Modern Woman Literary Elements

The Story of a Modern Woman Literary Elements


A New Woman Novel

Setting and Context

The actions take place in London of the late-Victorian period.

Narrator and Point of View

Third-person narration

Tone and Mood

In story prevails romantic tone, sometimes tragic (connected with the death of some characters), and sarcastic when talking about the society problems.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist of the story is Mary Erle, and the antagonist is society that makes women behave in a particular way.

Major Conflict

The major conflict stands in contradiction of “the modern woman” and society, their self-affirmation and the society where it is hard for a woman to get a success.


Climax happens when Mary refuses Mr. Hemming, the man she loved, to go away with him, because he was married and it was wrong.


The period of history, depicted in the story, foreshadows that life of a woman in that time was hard, they even didn’t have the right to vote and each their day was like a struggle with old traditions and rules.


Modern women should stand together and help each other, because everything in this world is against them; they should prove to everybody that they are self-sufficient and independent.


The story alludes to the historic period when it was written, the social role of women in that time, the problem of their self-realization.




The paradox of the story is that although Mary wanted to be with Mr. Hemming and she loved him, she refuses to be with him because he is married. Even the fact that he doesn’t love his wife and she will never be happy with anyone else can’t make Mary change her mind and she stays lonely.


The women is like Nature, they have the period of blossoming and revival, like spring, the period of happiness and careless, like summer, the time when they become more mature and wise (parallels with autumn period when the nature has its gifts to people), and the time when they become strict, disappointed and down to earth, they are not able to bring love anymore, because winter lives in their souls and only the coming of spring will break the ice of their hearts.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The author uses metonymy and synecdoche to generalize the main problems of the story with some ironic shade: “the modern women”, “women’s fortune”, “the triumph of civilization”, society, “the sinful world”.


The author uses personification to enforce the mood of the main character, her feelings: “It was as if Death, with his cruel, searing wings had cauterized her very soul.”, “the very air throbbed with coming life”, “All around her was joyous activity of spring time. Nature, who never ceases, who never rests, was once again at her work of recreation.”

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