Epiphany: Odour of Chrysanthemums & Shiloh

Essay by bartleyUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, March 2003

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Epiphany: Odour of Chrysanthemums & Shiloh

An Epiphany is a literary term that can be applied to Elizabeth Bates in "Odour of Chrysanthemums" when she realizes her husband has died. And to Leroy Moffitt in "Shiloh" when he understands that he needs to change in order to save his marriage. Both characters had an epiphany that would have meant a great change in there lives if it happened for them earlier.

The term epiphany seems to have many meanings and uses, but of coarse the literary definition is the most appropriate for the discussion of these short stories. One of the course texts describes an epiphany as a "standard term for the description, frequent in modern poetry and prose fiction, of the sudden flare into revelation of an ordinary object or scene" (Abrams 81). Simply put, an epiphany is a sudden understanding, realization or insight which, before revealed, was not thought of or understood.

The term in this sense was first introduced in literature by the author James Joyce.

Elizabeth "had never seen him, he had never seen her, they had met in the dark and had fought in the dark, not knowing whom they met nor whom they fought" (Lawrence 148). She had never really known her own husband; perhaps she incorrectly assumed that marriage implied a special connection between husband and wife. Whatever the belief, this realization combined with her husband's, death leads to a sense of loneliness which is the most unique aspect of the story. Elizabeth didn't feel remorse about the relationship between herself and her husband; she was ashamed that it could go on with her not seeing that "There had been nothing between them" (Lawrence 148). Her mother-in-law took the death quite a bit harder then she did. Elizabeth forced herself to "weep and...