books Project Gutenberg

Life And Death of Harriett Frean by May Sinclair

A poor soul defined solely by her time and surrounding.

Everyone is striving for some sort of personal ideal. But is that ideal good for us, is it truly our personal ideal, or a load pushed onto our young backs, backs too young to toss it to the side and find a burden of our own to carry and live with. In the case of the tragic hero of this story, Harriett Frean, the burden is not her own, but that of her society.

Born and raised in the Victorian times, she tries to live up to the ideals of her time. There is no doubt in her mind what she must be, not ever a shred of doubt. But ideals only exist in a certain place and in a certain time, and time never stops, for anyone. As the story progresses, she is more and more of an antique pushed to the side, forgotten in a far away place. Even her friends have changed. She became the perfect daughter, and ruined her life. But not just her own life.

You often hear that our lives are not just our own. There are many people who are affected by our actions, even just our moods. Every one of our actions has latent consequences on the lives of those close to us. The fork in the road moment for Harriett, the moment that will lead not only her life down the road of misery (unknown to her, but known to the others) is when she rejects her friend’s fiancé. They both share emotions for each other, they seemed made for each other, but the custom prevails. Harriett chose to be what her time, her place, her upbringings, her family, told her to be, and not what she wanted and felt. The Victorian surrounding extinguished the biggest passion one could have in one’s life. She remains lone, thinking people will always know who she is, or who her father was, but we only live as long as the memory of us remains. She thought her father an all knowing, great man, who shall be remembered for eternity. But it turns out, he was just another local big shot, who’s prominence died the day his heart stopped beating. Her friend married, and was miserable, as was her husband. Harriett was as well, but luckily for her, a lot less conscious of her condition, growing more bitter by the day, until she was no more. No one to remember her, just rotting tissue under a few blocks of stone.


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