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Thea Kronborg, a daughter to the Methodist minister of Moonstone, Mr. Peter Kronborg, is the heroine of this novel. She is a Swedish girl. We are introduced to her at the onset of the novel when she is only eleven-years old. This was at a time when she was almost dying of undiagnosed pneumonia. Emphasis on the story is placed on Thea and her growth and development into womanhood and as a singer. She grows up a bit disillusioned concerning her ambitions after a series of unfortunate events. The novel chronicles Thea Kronborg's struggle to become a premiere opera singer over a period of years. We see a woman artist who struggles psychically to reach the peak of her career, she finally makes it however. Willa Cather uses Thea's experiences to draw to us with bleak simplicity the harsh world shared by many human types and cultures, she represents an America emerging from a weird and rude start and making progress, though haphazardly, towards a compromise between power of nature, social norms and the higher targets of civilization.
The novel, The Song of the Lark depends almost in its entirety on music and music related concerns in its setting, plot structure and character development. We see Thea having to travel so as to study music. The protagonist seems comfortable with her choice to put music at the centre of her adult life and remains emotionally detached from others. Her life models that of a true artist. The normal relations most people mind in order to thrive are peripheral to her. It is her devotion to opera that occupies her life. Music has been used to comment on the action, revealing characters' interior worlds and connecting them to a distant world. Thea's talent is barely recognized by both her neighbors and family. People close to her think of her as being odd compared to other kids when she is growing up a matter that led her to not having friends her of her own age.
Thea is portrayed as character with a rather prickly personality. In her Moonstone piano teacher's reflection, we are told that she may hate difficulties but cannot resist their challenge and she will have "no peace until she mastered them". Through Thea's inarticulateness and bilingualism, Cather reveals to us what she needs to overcome so as to achieve her potential. Her bilingualism indicates her possession of a confused identity. Later on we see her gain independence. After she acquires her own room, she for the first time can converse with her own thoughts. When she starts giving piano classes she achieves a lot in terms of personal independence, for example as a wage earner. We are told that she becomes "the woman (she was) meant to be".
Thea possesses the will and determination to succeed; she is different from the typical woman as she dreams not of marriage but of her vocation. She is not at her mother's bedside when she dies as she was launching her career with the Dresden Opera In comparison with other women, Thea seems different as is shown in her marriage. She does not give it much attention as she concentrates on her dream instead. The author describes her as having "muscular energy and audacity..." These are male attributes.
The author uses Thea as her heroine in the novel and all males are subordinates. They are only useful in supporting her to achieve her goals. In most conventional novels, the males would be the ones to direct the plot. In this case however, the author characterizes the men rather than the women as being the primary romantics. Ray nurses a hope to one day marry Thea. Thea has feelings for Dr.Archie who seemingly is unavailable as he is tied in an unhappy marriage.