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Elsie Venner: A destiny of obscurity

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  1. Introduction.
    1. The novel Elsie Venner.
    2. Oliver Wendell Holmes - celebrated physician and professor.
    3. The begining of the novel - brief description of the Brahmin Caste of New England.
  2. Mr. Bernard Langdon.
    1. His intrigue with the girl, who never socializes with the other girls.
    2. Decision to study the rattlesnakes.
  3. The narrators narrations of detail about Elsie's moods.
  4. Dr. Kittredge decision to visit Sophy again.
  5. The conventions of fiction.
  6. The centre of the main plot.
  7. Conclusion.

In it's own words, the novel Elsie Venner, written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, has been called ?A Romance of Destiny? (Title), ?a medicated novel? (Preface 1), and a ?test [of] the doctrine of ?original sin' and human responsibility? (Preface 1). I see very little of these attributes in the novel, but rather see a story of a strange young girl who loves a man who doesn't love her back. I know what Holmes was attempting, which was to write a harsh commentary of the ?original sin? theory that prevailed in New England churches. However, I believe he spent too much of the novel talking about human nature instead of showing the reader, through the actions of his characters, what he felt was central to humanity. This novel is already so obscure that most Americans haven't read it or even heard of it, and this is due to the many structural and conventional flaws that exist in the text.

[...] The Widow Rowens plans a tea party solely for the intent of wooing Dudley. The invitees are Elsie, Dudley, Richard, Blanche Creamer lady from the town), Dr. Kittredge, Helen Darley, Mr. Bernard Langdon, Rev. Dr. Honeywood, and his granddaughter Letty. She purposefully sets Dudley in between herself and Helen to contrast herself with the plain-looking teacher. The tea party is quite eventful, as Dudley ignores the Widow and gives all of his attention to Helen, and Mr. Bernard makes friends with young Letty while Elsie stares with envy. [...]


[...] Kittredge about a birthmark which Elsie has, and that is why she always wears great necklaces. Richard decides to try to woo Elsie one last time before becoming desperate. He asks her to dance in the parlor, but he stares at her necklace, which makes her panic. He knows that she loves Mr. Bernard, and decides to take him out of the picture: he will murder the schoolmaster and make it look like a suicide. Bernard begins to feel uneasy, and he talks to Helen. [...]


[...] Feeling guilty for his actions, Bernard contributes some leaves to a basket that the schoolgirls are making for Elsie, but they are the leaves of the White Ash tree, which make Elsie's condition worse, because the White Ash has a supernatural ability to ward off evil spirits. Dr. Kittredge is convinced that Elsie will die very soon. Elsie sends for Mr. Bernard, and she gives him her gold bracelet to give to someone he really loves. He leaves, and her condition deteriorates, until she finally dies. [...]

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