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"An Angel In Disguise" by T.S Arthur
Transcript of "An Angel In Disguise" by T.S Arthur
Mr.Thompson: Joe Thompson is the image of compassion in this story. After the mother's funeral, Joe is compelled to take Maggie home with him, because "it's a cruel thing to leave her so." and he knows that bringing her to a poorhouse, as the others have suggested, will do no good for little Maggie. Furthermore, since Joe "had a heart" and "liked children", he was able to convince his wife "who was not a woman of saintly temper" to allow Maggie to stay in their home before she was brought to a poorhouse, although Joe had no intention to bring her to one at all.
T. S. Arthur
Born on June 6th, 1890
Due to poor health, Arthur had little formal education, he grew up hearing Bible stories and many tales about his grandfather who was an officer in the Revolutionary War, from his mother.
Arthur educated himself through reading and became an apprentice for a Baltimore craftsman
Later on he became an editor for the Baltimore Athenaeum and Young Men's Paper.
Three years later he started the Baltimore Literary Monument.
It was during this period that Arthur learned of the Washingtonian Temperance Society, which inspired him to write many novels on prohibition.
T. S Arthur
His novels were such a success that during the decade after the civil war, the only author that outsold him in American fiction was Harriet Beecher Stowe with "Uncle Tom's Cabin".
The older T.S Arthur got the worse his eyesight became, his world narrowed during the early years of the 1880s, although he continued editorial work with the aid of amanuenses. By February 1885, he was unable to leave his home and died on March 6th,1885. He was buried in Philadelphia's old Chestnut Street Cemetery.
Joe begged her to "Look at her kindly, Jane; speak to her kindly,", "Think of her dead mother, and the loneliness, the pain, the sorrow that must be on all her coming life."
While Joe was out at work Mrs. Thompson spent the day with Maggie and grew very fond of her.
The Thompsons ended up keeping Maggie, and she became a blessing, "It had been dark, and cold, and miserable there for a long time just because his wife had nothing to love and care for out of herself, and so became soar, irritable, ill-tempered, and self-afflicting in the desolation of her woman's nature. Now the sweetness of that sick child, looking ever to her in love, patience, and gratitude, was as honey to her soul, and she carried her in her heart as well as in her arms, a precious burden" - Maggie was an angle in disguise.
"An Angel in Disguise" was written in 1851 by TS Arthur. This time period consisted of many historic happenings including:
Failure of the Wilmot Provisio to pass in the US Senate, which could have prohibited slavery in all territories acquired from Mexico in the Mexican-American War.
The prohibition era of the United States, in which many Americans protested to ban alcohol completely.
Children's Labor laws begin to be established. For example, the were forbidden to work for more than ten hours per day and many national institutions, such as the New England Association of Farmers, begin to condemn child labor.
A poor woman who was hated during her life by nearly everyone in her village, dies while intoxicated and leaves 2 daughters and a son behind to fend for themselves.
The towns people pitied these children, and the two oldest were taken in by new families, but the youngest Maggie, who was crippled, was left alone because no body wanted to deal with her disability.
A man named Joe Thompson decided to take her in for the night but planned on bringing her to the poor house the next morning, because he knew his wife would not approve of her.
When Joe brought Maggie home in his arms, his wife Mrs. Thompson was enraged that he brought that "sick brat" into her house.
"An Angel In Disguise" by T.S Arthur
By Tom Hovanec & Cassidy Diaz
The Mid-19th Century
Maggie is the youngest of her family, and is tragically crippled from falling from a window two years prior. She is unable to leave her bed unless carried in someone's arms. Maggie symbolizes innocence and dependency, because she literally cannot survive without the love and care of someone else. This is seen as a burden a first glance, but Maggie turns out to be a blessing in the Thompson home because she gives Mrs. Thompson purpose. Maggie's character illustrates the main theme of the short story, that humans cannot survive without other humans to love and care for them.
Mrs.Thompson is first introduced as a very cruel harsh character with little compassion for Maggie, calling her a "sick brat". Although after spending time with Maggie, Mrs. Thompson is transformed and decides she wants to take care Maggie for a few more days, which eventually turns into the rest of her life. Mrs.Thompson ends up falling in love with Maggie, and finds purpose in taking care and looking after her. Mrs. Thompson's character illuminates the theme of caring, and how caring for and loving others can bring the best out of someone and give someone a purpose for living.
Tone: Melancholy to Joyful
"Idleness, vice, and intemperance had done their miserable work, and the dead mother lay cold and still amid her wretched children."
"What light and blessing did that sick and helpless child bring to the home of Joe Thompson"
"Death touches the spring of our common humanity."
"[Joe] carried her in her heart as well as in her arms, a precious burden."
The recurring motif of disease or sickness which beg with the mother's alcoholism and continues with Maggie's injury and sickness demonstrates that a simple character flaw can cause positive and negative things to occur in one's life.
Speaker: The speaker in this story is a third person omniscient narrator (all-knowing). The narrator has a bias toward the children, especially Maggie, due to her predicament of being an orphan whom everyone is reluctant to take in. The narrator demonstrates this bias when he describes Maggie as having "sad eyes and a patient face".
Occasion: The occasion that causes this story to unfold is the death of a single mother of three children who are left alone as orphans. The mother's cause of death is alcoholism, and her children are left with no where to go, since it was unexpected.
Audience: This short story seems to target both an audience of alcoholics and those who discriminate against handicapped or disabled people. It targets alcoholics because it displays the tragedy that alcohol can inflict on a family. It also targets those who discriminate because the story illustrates the joy and love that disabled people can bring to ones life, and how valuable their life truly is.
Purpose: T. S. Arthur wrote this short story in order to illustrate the importance of caring and loving for others. Not only does Maggie need the care and love of another to survive, but Mrs. Thompson also needs Maggie as someone to care and love for to live a happy purposeful life. This displays that humans cannot survive without other humans to give them purpose and direction. T. S Arthur proves that love is essential for human survival.
Subject: The subject of this short story is disease. The story begins by displaying the negative things that disease brings with it, like the mother's death due to her addiction and Maggie being stuck alone because no one wants to adopt the child who cannot walk. Conversely, the end of the story demonstrates the happiness that accepting disease can bring, when the Thompsons take Maggie in and are finally happy.
Tone: The tone of the short story begins as a melancholy one, because a woman, who no one seemed to previously care about, has passed away and the townspeople suddenly act as if they are in mourning. This tone continues as the narrator reveals that the children are orphans, and especially when none of the townspeople are willing to take little Maggie in. Once Joe Thompson takes Maggie to his house, the tone shifts from melancholy to hopeful; although Mrs. Thompson wants to send Maggie to the poorhouse, her kindness toward the child foreshadows a possible change in mind. Finally, once Mrs. Thompson realizes that Maggie is bringing the couple happiness, the tone ultimately shifts to loving and optimistic for the future.
Online, Literature. "T.S. Arthur." - Biography and Works. 13 Feb. 1997. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <http://www.online-literature.com/ts-arthur/>.
Washington State University. "Timeline of American Literature and Events:1850s." Brief Timeline of American Literature and Events:1850s. 5 Oct. 2001. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/1850>