This is one of my favorite stories. I haven’t run across it in years, and one thing I’m curious about is this: In your opinion, is this more vignette or fictional memoir than a story? In my memory, most of the story is told in flashback and there’s no event or decision that transforms Lois in some way. If she’s static, which considering how her life has been frozen by the tragedy, makes sense, then I think Margaret Atwood “broke” a standard rule of story telling, but the piece is still so completely beautiful and compelling that I consider it perfect.
Tennyson lived through many important discoveries and developments in the fields of biology, astronomy, and geology. In 1830-33, Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology extended the history of the earth back millions of years and reduced the stature of the human race in time. Astronomers presented a map of the sky overwhelming in its vastness. Robert Chambers’s Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844) and Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) made humans just another species within the animal kingdom. The new discoveries implied a view of humanity that much distressed many Victorians, including Tennyson. In Maud, for example, he describes the stars as “cold fires, yet with power to burn and brand / His nothingness into man”; unlike the Romantics, he possessed a painful awareness of the brutality and indifference of “Nature red in tooth and claw.” Although Tennyson associated evolution with progress, he also worried that the notion seemed to contradict the biblical story of creation and long-held assumptions about man’s place in the world. Nonetheless, in “In Memoriam,” he insists that we must keep our faith despite the latest discoveries of science: he writes, “Strong Son of God, immortal Love / Whom we, that have not seen they face, / By faith, and faith alone, embrace / Believing where we cannot prove.” At the end of the poem, he concludes that God’s eternal plan includes purposive biological development; thus he reassures his Victorian readers that the new science does not mean the end of the old faith. Tennyson thus provided the Victorians with a way of reconciling the new discoveries of science with their personal and religious convictions about man’s place and purpose.
Hitting the word count for a given assignment can sometimes be tough. If your teacher or professor set a particular page count, he or she probably did so for a reason. In all likelihood, it would be difficult to do a good job going under the required page count. Therefore, if your essay is on the short side, there's probably room to expand the content. Read over your essay and be critical of your writing. Look for moments and paragraphs where additional facts, resources, and quotations may be needed. Then, go in and add this information to your essay. With a little time and dedication, you should be able to stretch your essay out to the proper page count.