The Story of Little Mary And Her Cat

     In Mary and her Cat, we are first introduced to Mary and her neighbor named Mrs. Brown, who we learn had taken great care of Mary when she was a baby. Nurse Brown tries to instill good manners into young Mary, and to be obedient to her mother as a sign of love. Nurse Brown has a cat named Muff, who is fond of both Nurse Brown and Mary. Muff had black and grey stripes, a round face, and a white chest with white paws. Nurse Brown becomes sick and has a grave prognosis. Mary’s mother sends Nurse brown some wine and physic (medicine), to help her feel better. Mary would like to help care for Nurse Brown with the doctor, but her mother advises against it because she is far too young to care for a living being. Instead, she recommends Mary to give words of love and encouragement to Nurse Brown instead. Nurse Brown, as she lies in bed, does not feel sorrow over her illness, rather she prays to God to make sure that little Mary grows up to be a good girl, and later, a good woman. On the verge of death, Nurse Brown reminds Mary that she will be happy if she is a good girl. Nurse Brown tells Mary she will no longer see her, but that she will always be in Mary’s thoughts. She then gives Mary her cat, reminding Mary that if she ever does wrong, she will think of her when she looks at Muff and feel sorry for her wrong doings. Nurse brown passed away that night. Mary then falls sick one day, a pain deep within her stomach and head. Mary’s mother tried to give her some medicine, but Mary threw a fit and forgot all about what Nurse Brown had told her. She goes to pout elsewhere, and upon hearing her tantrum Muff visits her, reminding little Mary of Nurse Brown. The next day, Mary feels better and has herself a walk where she stumbles upon a poor little kitten. Needless to say, Muff did not welcome the kitten at first sight, but eventually learned to tolerate it. Mary’s uncle was going on a ship for three or four years. He gives her a locket with his hair in it, and Mary decides that Muff should wear it. Later, Mary’s mother tells her to put it in safekeeping until she is older. But, Mary didn’t listen and became distracted once the locket was placed back on Muff. Muff is no where to be found the next day and Mary’s mother tells her that he had been stolen all because of the interest in the locket. Mary then feels a wave of guilt and sorrow in her heart for her mother, Muff, her uncle and Nurse Brown. A little boy visits some time later and reunites Mary with Muff. The black string is still around Muff’s neck, but her uncles locket was missing. Mary and the little boy Robert, who had come from a very poor family, become close friends. Mary’s mother even sends Robert to school, and gives him books and clothes and Mary divides her money between the two of them so he might buy other things for his siblings. As for Muff, he grew fat and happy once more with Mary. Mary also learns that it is best to never commit such wrongdoings against her mother, as nothing good comes out of it. These lessons were what Nurse Brown tried to instill in Mary, but sometimes it takes some real life experiences to realize the reason behind such things. 

     The Genre of Mary and her Cat falls under an eighteenth century category called "Juvenile Literature". These stories were aimed to provide proper teachings of various lessons. At the start of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, adults started to realize that childhood was vastly different from adulthood. The English came to describe children as being imprintable, or in other words easily morphed into the young adults they will later become. The main goal of juvenile literature was to teach them morals and good conduct. There were three schools of thought behind this new idea. These theories and topics of instruction help to form the literature content that will then shape the young minds of children to become polite individuals who hold the same morals and values as their parents. As a bonus, by using children's literature for teaching and getting into the minds of children, the life lessons taught in these books were everyday occurences. This means the books much more interactive and memorable to the children, proving that morals and values can easily be instilled in the younger generations under the right circumstances. Also, instances where the children's books contain illustrations also make it more enjoyable and fun to read. This allows children to see facial expressions (containing emotions that may or may not be considered appropriate to convey in certain situations) and how children can easily follow the story with a mix of text and pictures. This also helps to keep their attention, and provides a nice little break if they are learning to read the book themselves. 
- The Augustian Theory: This theory assumes that all children's personalities were controlled by inhuman forces.
-The Educationalist Theory: This theory was crafted with the assumption that an infant's mind was a "blank slate". This means that the adults held the power to imprint (or morph) them into whatever mindset or characteristic set they wanted.
-The Children of Inherently Good Theory: This theory suggests that all children are born perfectly pure, and should live a life of freedom and individuality. This theory also states that if children were to be imprinted by adults, it is under evil conditions that will essentially morph them into the corrupt ways of adult institutions.
Likewise, there are also three topics of instruction. These topics of instruction were created when the idea of teaching through literature was widespread.
- A Religious Instruction: Within the beginning of the eighteenth century, most children's literature was created solely for religious teachings.
- A Class Division: With social classes blending in together, some authors decided to recreate those class divisions through literature by highlighting their differences.
- A Gender Construct: These children's books taught critical cultural norms of gender, and were also targeted to young ladies in terms of social change. 

“Perceptions of Children.” Children's Literature in the Eighteenth Century,