Literary Analysis Over "Spoon River Anthology"

Spoon River Anthology is a collection of poems written around the year 1915 by renowned poet and writer Edgar Lee Masters and has received acclamation in different places in the world through the ages. This is mainly because they address various different issues in the lifestyle of humans in a small fictional time going by the name Spoon River. The poems range in category form those that talk about politics and there are those that majorly focus on society. The poems discuss 243 characters in the town and focus on their issues rather deeply. In his work, Edgar explores very many different themes and two of the widely explored are love and hope.

The theme of love is expressed clearly through the fact that there was the notion of marriage in the town and the manner through which old rules in the town supported the institution as long as two people loved each other. For example in the story of Mrs. George Greece, she expressed her love for the husband despite the fact that he was sent to prison for many years for a crime he did not commit. She portrayed love by the many visits she took to see him and the fact that she never committed adultery (Clarke 45).

The theme of love also comes out in a rather negative manner such as in the story of Benjamin Palmer and his wife. Benjamin married despite the fact that he knew that they did not have a lot in common with the woman. They did not really love each other as each complained of the negative attributes that the other bore. It is also expressed that love does not last long in the story of Mrs. Merritt. This is from the manner through which she pretended to love her husband though in real terms she was cheating on him with a young man aged 19.

Another theme clearly expressed is the theme of hope. This is from the story of Tom Beaty. The story tells of two lawyers who were well educated, lived a rather calm life, and portrayed hard work in their daily endeavors. Though their lives were neither fabulous nor classy, they lived each day with the notion that life is like a card game. They knew that they could either win or die in their quest for better lives. However, they took the optimistic stand rather strongly and hoped that through their diligence, nature would reward them abundantly.

The theme is also expressed in the poem Johnnie Sayre. This is from the plot that expresses Johnnie being hurt by a train and then taken to a place where he could not see his family. At this new place, he had time to think and was deeply apologetic for his previous actions where he had treated his father uncouthly. He was feeling unwell but still lived hoping that one day he would gain the ability to face his father and seek a formal apology. Despite his high hopes, he died before seeing him. This is a rather concise expression of hope where the son lived each day gaining the urge to survive through hope that is known to assist many through strength.

These are just some of the themes expressed in the poems and the deeper exploration of these themes show issues that are even in the contemporary world. Edgar did very well in expressing them and thus the acclamation. Hope and love are very important and the fact that they were brought out shows their very high point in society.


Work Cited
Clarke, Samuel. ”Spoon River Anthology”. Research English Commission. 2008.

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