Sarah Orne Jewett House

A Marsh Island (1885)

In “A Marsh Island”, Jewett intertwines two recurring themes, the rural life versus the urban, and the exploration of a young woman’s purpose in existence.

Relative to two noted works that bookend it, “A Country Doctor” (1884) and “A White Heron” (1886), “A Marsh Island” is a traditional novel, in which boy meets girl and vies for her in a love triangle.

However, in Jewett’s world, the potential love story cools, and the heroine, though she eventually marries one suitor, has fleeting thoughts of freedom and flight throughout the book.

As her betrothal is to be announced, the character Doris Owens notices that, “some late flies buzzed at the panes, as if they wished to escape and share the freedom of the bright October day.” (XXII, “A Marsh Island”)