Marriage Equality In Story Of An Hour English Literature Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: English Literature|
|✅ Wordcount: 2807 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
Women’s roles have expanded at an amazing rate, and the need for a more equal style of relating seems significant. Women still suffer an unequal responsibility for functioning relationships, a smooth running home and children rearing. Many stories in the literary cannon were written about women’s roles, voices, rights in marital life, and these issues were brought to the readers’ attention. “Marriage has a differential and more stressful impact on women than on men because of the inequality in the status of husbands and wives.” (Steil 24). “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is one of these stories that Kate Chopin had successfully portrayed her characters and plot. It was written in 1894, and it took place in Louisiana. This story is a great example of marital equality during 19th century in the United States. During this era, marriage was not even between sexes and women’s roles were not taking seriously.
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The story began with a sad message from Josephine who told Mrs. Louise Mallard that her husband, Brently Mallard, had died in a railroad accident. Kate Chopin described Mrs. Mallard like many other wives when they heard about the sad new about their husband. “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms” (Charters 121). Mrs. Mallard showed her sadness toward her husband’s death. Kate Chopin tried to relate something here to connect tightly the relationship between wife and husband. Chopin showed Mrs. Mallard’s love that she had toward Mr. Mallard. This helps us to understand that how much women care about their relationships with their spouses. However, Joelle Million is the author of the book Women’s Voice, Woman’s Place. Million stated that women’s marital life is much more different than when they were single. They usually have control over their lives the same as men did but they surrendered it to their husband once they become married. (Million 13). It looked like that the image of Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is built to show to the world that women are willing to give up themselves once they married to their husband. This is only true in some cases. There is a big question about how about men treat their wives, yet there are no answers.
From the moment of the storm of grief, Mrs. Mallard went to her room alone. There, she eventually realized one thing that she has never thought about, and that was her freedom. “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: ‘free, free, free!’ ” (Chopin 121). Kate Chopin cleverly took the readers into a different page of the story. A page is filled of new, fresh air, new scents, and even a new life for Mrs. Mallard. Chopin used many images of rain, wind, blue sky, clouds and bird to indicate Mrs. Mallard’s hope. Through this page, I can see how much women’s roles were unequal during the time when Kate Chopin wrote this story. According to Dianne S. Blake, a female journalist in Seeking a Voice, the idea of the “true women” was engraved in American’s mind in the middle of the 19th century. Women were described as virtuous and obedient. Women’s main duties were comforting their husband, doing chores, and caring for the children (Blake 249). Similarly, Mrs. Mallard’s roles in her family was the same as many other wives during that time.
Moreover, Kate Chopin was born and lived the rest of her life in the South in the civil war, and during the women’s rights movements. Her writing style had been influenced by the historical context and the social convention. Chopin successfully set her characters in her stories to show respect and understanding of women’s roles. However, her works were turned down if they challenged conventional social behaviors at that time. “The Story of an Hour” is one of them but it is championed more than fifty years after Chopin’s death. This helps us have a better understanding about women’s roles at that time. In addition, Mrs. Louise Mallard’s desire was that she would live for herself and move on after her husband’s death. “There would be no one to live for her during those coming years” (Chopin 122). By saying this, Kate Chopin implied that Mrs. Mallard’s life was just like being a slave when Mr. Mallard was still alive. Mrs. Mallard not only had to suffer, struggle and be dependent, but at the same time, other women had the same problems too. For example, Mary Cecilia Rogers was a young woman known popularly as “The Beautiful Cigar Girl” who lived in New York in mid 19th century. In the summer 1941, Rogers’s disappeared from where she lived without a trace and finally her body was found floating in the Hudson River. The body was waterlogged and badly bruised. Amy Gilman Srebnick was a historian, and she successfully recalled the story of Mary Rogers. She stated in her book The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers that Rogers represented a rising class of women. Srebnick described how Rogers’s death became a new change in the community at that time. It became a standard for mid 19th century concerns over the changing of women roles and the abuse women endured. (Srebnick 3). Similarly, Mrs. Mallard’s death was from heart disease but the fact was that joy had killed her. She was happy and enjoyed the new, fresh life which welcomed her. However, she was shocked from the moment she saw her husband again in the house. Here, the joy of freedom had ended her life. Kate Chopin set up the situation like this in order to for us to see how much a woman desires to live a life of freedom. “Free! Body and soul free!” (Chopin 122).
More importantly, “The Story of an Hour” brought about a great example of marital equality in 19th century. Mrs. Mallard felt unhappy sometimes in her married relationship with Mr. Mallard “And yet she had loved him-sometimes. Often she had not.” (Chopin 122). She had heart disease as Chopin mentioned at the beginning. “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble” (Chopin 121). Heart disease is a symbolic “disease” of marriage that indirectly affected throughout Louise Mallard’s life. The “disease” cannot be cured unless the cause of disease disappeared. The cause here was her husband and what he represented in her marriage life. Louise Mallard did not expect her husband’s death but his death was absolutely an efficient medication for her to refresh not only her body but also her soul. Mrs. Mallard had to fight psychologically inside her mind to realize whether or not she should be happy about Mr. Mallard’s death. A great example for that is when she was in her room by herself. After she saw and heard beautiful things going on outside on the street, she knew that there was something waiting for her in a very near future. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the airâ€¦ there were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window” (Chopin 121). Even though she still felt sad and disappointment about her life at first, she did not know what she was going to do if her husband died. “She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who had cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams” (Chopin 121). Kate Chopin described Louise Mallard’s actions which occurred beautifully. Chopin represented Mrs. Mallard like “a child who had cried to itself continues to sob in its dreams” (Chopin 121). It was a brilliantly described. Again, Chopin used the images of blue sky, new spring life, and the delicious breath of rain to show hopefulness and optimism for Mrs. Mallard. The art of language use was taken in advance by Kate Chopin to show the readers interest.
Furthermore, Chopin used the symbol of the heart disease to show the readers the marriage relationship during 19th century. A marriage that symbolized inequality was occurring in Mrs. Mallard’s life. There was a reason for that and Chopin brought it to the readers’ attention as to how much love Mrs. Mallard had for her husband. “And yet she had loved him – sometimes. Often she had not.” (Chopin 122). Chopin presented a negative view of marriage by describing Louise Mallard’s life like a closed life. To me, Louise Mallard was locked inside a room by her husband for a long time, and the space inside her room is just like a deep inner-life that is not connected to the outside world. There, she tried to discover her feelings and understand the meaning of her marriage relationship when she heard the shocking news about her husband. There was something going in her married life, and her life was controlled by her husband. Chopin stated “there would be no one to live for her during those coming years: she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.”(Chopin 122). Phrases like “powerful will” and “blind persistence” are much more descriptive and full of energy than any Chopin used to describe the fact that Mrs. Mallard had no one to live for. These phrases also showed that how much Mr. Mallard influenced Mrs. Mallard’s life. This is pretty much a common situation not only for Mrs. Mallard but also many other women during 19th century. Especially, during the civil rights movement and women’s rights movement, women’s roles were not taking seriously. Joelle Million said in her book, Women’s Voice, Women’s Places”, a married woman had no control of her body. Women had limited legal rights, and they did not have anything for their own such as, jewelry, income or even kids. Children belonged and listened to the father for the most part. Unfortunately, authorized people allowed the men to do that. It was really a bitter life for women during the 19th century (Million 12). Kate Chopin was neither a feminist nor a critic. Nevertheless, she was a woman who took women extremely seriously. She never doubted a women’s ability to be strong. She came from a long line of strong women whom she loved and respected. Kate Chopin opened a new page for women through her stories. She simply had a different understanding of freedom. She saw freedom as much more a matter of spirit, soul. Although there is no indication that Chopin had regretted her marriage, she was pretty good to show how deep she thought about women’s life in their marriage relationship. She worked hard to write about women’s emotions and their relationship with men. Her writings were turned down by magazine editors because her stories challenged conventional standard at that time.
“The Story of an Hour” has strong evidence that proves to the world that a woman’s role needs to be taken seriously. The desire of freedom life of Mrs. Mallard is also a great example for that. Mrs. Mallard felt oppressed about her marriage during years lived with her husband. Yet, she felt like she released a huge amount of weight off her body when she heard the sad news. Just like many other women, Mrs. Mallard took the sad news like a lighting strike passed by her ears at first. Eventually, she settled down herself and figured out what went wrong, what made her sad, what made her like a prisoner during the time she lived with Mr. Mallard. Everything seemed like solved when she started to see new fresh view through the window in her room. Unfortunately, the sad new was misinformed by her sister. Mr. Mallard was still alive, and presented in the house. “Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who enteredâ€¦ He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards’ quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife” (Chopin 122). Mrs. Mallard was shocked, and she had died of heart disease. The joy had killed her. She actually died because the freedom had slipped away in her life, and she could not go back to living under her husband’s will again.
As humans, we live our life within the boundaries of our beliefs and moral guidelines. Yet, an unexpected event can suddenly knock us out of our comfort zone and push us into a completely different area. Such is the case of the central character in Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” Louise Mallard. When she heard the sad news of her husband’s terrible death, she found herself quickly moving from grief to a sense of brand new freedom, and finally into the hopelessness of the loss of that freedom. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is pretty much similar with “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant. In another word, there are some points different and same between the two characters of both stories. Mme. Loisel in “The Necklace” and Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” are somewhat alike. They both dream of something that they do not have. The only difference between them is that they dream of different things. Mrs. Mallard dreamed of freedom life but Mme. Loisel dreamed of assets. “She had no dresses, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but that; she felt made for that. She would so have liked to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after” (Maupassant 346). Their dreams come true but finally they lose back everything. Destiny and fate play a serious role in the life of women. It was so sad that women lost everything they had. However, authors portrayed two women who have trouble accepting their fate and are trying to reject the life of women of their class.
Though, Mrs. Mallard’s life ended in an extremely ironic way. Mrs. Mallard does in fact finally escape the restrictions of her old life. Mrs. Mallard’s death could be seen as the ultimate freedom from her unhappy marriage. Moreover, the story does not tell us whether Mr. Mallard is an abusive or irresponsible husband, but this couple certainly strives for maintaining their unsatisfactory marriage.
In conclusion, “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin was great story that I’ve ever read. Even the story only has two pages; the content of the story has more than two pages. The story involves many different aspects that relate in a real life back then and even until now. Women’s roles are shown wisely throughout the story. The title of the story includes a very broad meaning of a woman’s life. It was a sad story about the death of Mrs. Mallard. The cause of her death is heart failure disease but it is not true. The cause is the “disease” of unsatisfied marriage. The inequality marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Mallard is somewhat a cause of Mrs. Mallard’s death. Personally, I see this story is very emotional and sad. I learned a lot from reading this story. Treating other significant nicely is the best way to main a good marriage.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Literature and Its Writers: A Compact Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2010. 121-22. Print.
Million, Joelle. Woman’s Voice, Woman’s Place: Lucy Stone And the Birth of the Woman’s Rights Movement. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003. Print.
Steil, Janice M. Ingham. Marital Equality: Its Relationship to the Well-being of Husbands And Wives. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1997. Print.
Srebnick, Amy Gilman. The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex And Culture In Nineteenth-century New York. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.
Rushing, S. Kittrell, Roy Morris, and David B Sachsman. Seeking a Voice: Images of Race And Gender In the 19th Century Press. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 2009. Print.
Maupassant, de Guy. “The Necklace.” Literature and Its Writers: A Compact Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2010. 345-351. Print.
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