The Story Of An Hour
Concept of Change Through Nature in the Stories of Kate Chopin
Change has always been a revolutionary concept in our world, where the transformation of a familiar force into something entirely foreign is a perplexing idea. Kate Chopin evokes this feeling of mysticality through her pieces, “The Story of an Hour” and “The Storm,” by introducing her readers to the concept of change through nature. The female protagonists of these works are embodied by the transformations in weather, where one feels empowered at the sight of a flourishing landscape and another shows dominance when approached by thundering storms. A familiar, supernatural force comes into being as this theme of femininity ties in with the rapid changes of nature. Chopin evokes the character of Mother Nature within her female figures through personification, humanizing the weather by relating its versatility with a dominance that stems from femininity. Through the actions of Mrs. Mallard and Calixta, the audience is able to understand the overall empowerment given to women; they embody a figure greater in power than any human force, swaying the Earth to and fro with powers of growth and prosperity.
The embodiment of Mother Nature is best displayed by the flourishing of the world around the human race. As flowers bloom petal by petal and large oaks grow from tiny saplings, the feminine figure is surrounded and empowered by spring — the season of renewal and rebirth. In “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard is similarly invigorated by the imagery of springtime outside of her window. After she hears the news regarding the death of her husband, she rushes upstairs and instantly looks to the “open square before her house” (Chopin 556) for solace. Instead of looking for words of encouragement from her sister, Josephine, she slinks upstairs to be consoled by the image outside her “open window” (556). Just as Mother Nature is comforted by the sight of blooming flora, Mrs. Mallard holds the same quality, using the outside world to soothe her grief and initial shock of the news. The constant repetition of the word ‘open’ signifies this need for a connection with the wilderness, instead of being restricted inside. Mrs. Mallard finds hope within the limitless nature of the outside world, looking beyond her window to the skies, for an answer to her husband’s sudden death. As she is stuck within her own thoughts, the audience is greeted with the image of the protagonist in a “comfortable, roomy armchair” (556). The sight of the armchair displays a form of relaxation to Mrs. Mallard, but the word choice Chopin uses offers another meaning. Using the term ‘roomy’ implies that Mrs. Mallard is a petite woman compared to the oversized chair, which consumes her in size when she sits down. As the chair overpowers her, forcing her to feel inhabited “by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul” (556), she becomes clouded in worry. This displays Mrs. Mallard’s connection with the figure of Mother Nature, as her veiled emotions show restriction to the confining features of the piece of furniture; she feels weight as she is trapped inside the walls of her own home, as well as the walls of her broken marriage. Mrs. Mallard hopes to seek natural beauty rather than idly sit within the barriers of her room, just as Mother Nature does as she spreads her pure splendor throughout the world.
Mrs. Mallard begins her period of empowerment by showing mercy and sympathy for her deceased husband, describing the scene as a “storm of grief [that] had spent itself” (556). Chopin’s usage of the word ‘storm’ stands out, as it is a contrasting concept from the usual serenity of Mother Nature. Whereas the supernatural figure is typically shown to be a merciful, maternal character, the topic of natural disasters comes to mind with the mention of storms. Relating back to Mrs. Mallard, the death of her husband triggers a calamity inside of the female protagonist, bringing forth ideas contrasting with common normalities of femininity. Instead of remaining in despair about the death, she is struck by sudden realizations of freedom and escape. The vengeful form of Mother Nature resonates inside Mrs. Mallard, halting her stage of grief and instead forcing her to move onto a period of independence and empowerment. As Mrs. Mallard looks outside her window, embracing the open nature, she gradually realizes the detailings of the no-longer veiled world. She notices the “tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life [and] the delicious breath of rain in the air” (556), finding hints of life within the nature surrounding her. Just as Mother Nature allows Mrs. Mallard to discover a newfound appreciation for the vitality of the outside world, she also forces the character to seek new life inside her own self. Through the birth and growth of the nature outside, she gives birth to her own freedom from the death of her husband. The figure of Mother Nature is essentially capable of implanting the beauty of spring within her, making the presence of a man entirely trivial. When the main character notices “patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window” (556), the world of freedom opens up for her to venture out into. Whereas her husband symbolized the white piles of clouds, guarding her innocence and purity inside the safe haven of her home, Chopin’s choice of the color blue emphasizes open spaces, such as the sky and the sea. The figure of Mother Nature comes truly alive within Mrs. Mallard, where she is finally able to view the sights from her open window and discover a life of independence and empowerment without any man stopping her.
Unlike the situation of empowerment that occurs with Mrs. Mallard, “The Storm” begins with a feeling of submission from the male character of Bobinôt. The piece begins with a description of the setting, where “the leaves were so still that even Bibi thought it was going to rain… certain sombre clouds were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar” (557). Chopin’s mention of the ‘west’ proves to be essential, for the sun sets in the west; a sense of darkness and mystique is detected with the motion of the world’s natural light source gradually dimming. While the scattered patches of clouds present a foreshadowing of Mrs. Mallard’s newfound freedom in “The Story of an Hour,” the ominous, murky scenery in “The Storm” depicts a falling of masculinity for Calixta’s husband. Bobinôt initially shows hints of dominance by reassuring his son about Calixta’s safety, yet he veils his worry as he “[goes] across the counter [to purchase] a can of shrimps, of which Calixta was very fond… then [returning] to his perch on the keg and [sitting] stolidly holding the can of shrimps while the storm burst” (558). He carries traits of femininity as he purchases the item with his wife in mind, showing loyalty and dependence as he sits with his son through a raging calamity. Chopin’s choice of using the word ‘stolidly’ emphasizes Bobinôt’s attempt to hide the worry for his wife’s safety behind an expressionless face, protecting the ideas of harm from his child and giving him an aura of maternity. The storm portrayed in the short story forces the female role to be handed off to Bobinôt instead of Calixta, who remains “at home, [feeling] no uneasiness for their safety” (558). As Mother Nature approaches the male within the open area of the store, he becomes more submissive and becomes clouded in worry, whereas the hidden presence of the downpour allows Calixta to stay “occupied… not [noticing] the approaching storm” (558). Mother Nature forces Bobinôt to become a man who hides behind his exterior, taking away from the typical characteristics of being a masculine figure; instead, these qualities are given to Calixta, where she is empowered by the sight of stormy weather.
Just as the inner storm of independence rises in Mrs. Mallard, the literal storm mentioned in Calixta’s household allows her to achieve a dominance within her marital relationship. Whereas Mrs. Mallard is outwardly triggered by the serene form of Mother Nature outside her open window, Calixta appears to find strength by seeing the terror-filled sights of the harsh storm. Although she does not notice the harshness of the gusts against her home at first, she finds it “[beginning] to grow dark, and suddenly realizing the situation she got up hurriedly and went about closing windows and doors” (558). The fierce presence of Mother Nature comes in unexpectedly into Calixta’s life, forcing her to shut every open point of access. Chopin’s description of the protagonist’s rushed attitude depicts her overall wariness and hesitance of dropping her maternal characteristics. Especially since Bobinôt and Bibi are not present, Calixta heightens her senses by blocking out Mother Nature and her aura of independence by “[rolling] up a piece of bagging… [and thrusting] it beneath the crack” (558) with the help of Alcée. When Chopin calls attention to rooms of the household, a foreshadowing is shown through the “door [standing] open… the room with its white, monumental bed, its closed shutters, [looking] dim and mysterious” (558). The color white is a shade of innocence and purity, yet the shadows and darkness clouding over the bed show that Mother Nature’s brutality has already entered Calixta’s home; her efforts to blockade the figure have proven unsuccessful. The moment she shares with Alcée depicts the moment she falls under Mother Nature’s temptations and lets go of the submission over her marriage. The affair between the two shows a moment of empowerment for Calixta, where she lets go of her marital affairs and shares an intimate moment with a man of her choosing. Although the act can be identified as sinful, the identity of Mother Nature’s power is inevitable within Calixta, “her firm, elastic flesh… like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world” (559-560). Even through the raging storm, Calixta is replenished by the beauty of nature through the supernatural figure, just as Mrs. Mallard is while looking out her window.
Although the presence of females was undermined in years past, Chopin is able to depict the empowerment of her female characters through the figure of Mother Nature. Mrs. Mallard is evolved from a grieving woman into one filled with thoughts of freedom, while Calixta begins her transformation from a submissive woman under an oath of marriage to one that shows dominance as she partakes in an affair with a different man. Chopin’s short stories do not necessarily depict the moral good of her female characters, however, as both scenarios involve a lack of loyalty and trust within each marriage; Mrs. Mallard embraces the joy of her newfound independence through the death of her husband, while Calixta forgets about her duties as a maternal figure and partakes in an affair. From this note, can it be said that Mother Nature in Chopin’s pieces does not have the qualities of greater good in mind when influencing these characters? The supernatural figure appears to initially mock men, in order to place women on a pedestal, which possibly depicts Chopin’s personal opinions on male superiority. The stories written by this feminism-seeking author could denote qualities of ridicule and scorn, showing readers that not only were females excelling in writing, but they could compose literature filled to the brim with notes of male-taunting parody.
The Battle of the Press as Told in the Story of the Life of Richard Carlile
During the 19th century, the role of women and men were sharply defined as a line that may never be crossed. Men were dictated to work while their wives were attending their domestic duties. Likewise, women were forced to adhere to the standards placed on them such as preparing themselves for marriage. The ideology of this line was to represent the contrast between the two genders, both in their natural characteristics and their political power. Kate Chopin, the author of many feminist works of literature, encompasses this idea of patriarchy and systematic oppression in her short story, “The Story of an Hour.” She focuses on the life of Mrs. Mallard, a woman struggling with a heart problem and the death of her husband. This untimely death came with the unfolding emotional state of a woman oppressed by her marriage for years. It is a literary piece that reinforces the unending gender roles and stereotypes that are placed on women. Kate Chopin proves this in, “The Story of an Hour”, by focusing on the power differences in the 19th century, and how the main protagonist struggles with her own societal expectations and oppression.
Foremost, the story takes place in the 19th century which was a time that greatly expressed the power differences between men and women. Mrs. Mallard, who is the main protagonist in the story, is an example of the consequences of following the patriarchal laws and furthering these power differences. From the beginning of the novel, it was indicated that Mrs. Mallard had to compromise in order to please her husband. She gives up her freedoms, which was common for a woman in the 19th century, and loses her power in order to get married. These dynamics were set in order to place women in a lower priority power compared to men, and the narrator even states, “there would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself”. The power that is shown through here is the power of men to be able to work whereas women were set to be housewives; it is an implication of the stereotype that women should be domestic and submissive. It is also an illustration of Mrs. Mallard’s family and how deeply integrated her life was with these societal complications. Furthermore, Mrs. Mallard’s life was anything but extraordinary. In fact, Mrs. Mallard doesn’t seem to share the same love her husband has, furthering the idea of forced marriages. “She loved him- sometimes, often she did not.” This idea of love not only proves that Mrs. Mallard does not share the same ‘emotional’ aspects that women are stereotyped to be, but it also proves that her liberation is incomparably greater than the feeling of marriage. Marriage, in other words, was the loss of this freedom and power.
Additionally, the news of her husband’s death was an implication of how marriage during the 19th century was a battle of power. This is seen through the realization of Mrs. Mallard’s newfound freedom when she thinks,”‘free, free, free!’ The vacant state and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes”. Not only does this showcase her loss of freedom in the marriage, but it is also a representation of how Mrs. Mallard feels knowing that she still has a place in society while being free. In other words, because society would not accept a divorced woman but could accept a widow, Mrs. Mallard understands that she has gained back a portion of her freedom without sacrificing herself. Moreover, this power difference during those times created a mindset in women to accept what they already have. For instance, Mrs. Mallard even determines that she no longer had a man that will ‘bend her in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature’. This is not only a demonstration of how Mrs. Mallard and society thought of women as ‘property’, however; it also showcases that Mrs. Mallard has even accepted that society has placed women lower than men. By the same token, the readers can view the death of Mr. Mallard as a symbol of the loss of the freedom that Mrs. Mallard had gained for a short period of time. In the story, the readers expect Mrs. Mallard to grieve at the death of her husband, however; it is obviously seen that this is not the case. In fact, Kate Chopin creates an ending with an ironic twist, where Mrs. Mallard’s death was caused by the entrance of her husband-who was spectacularly alive-causing her to die “of a joy that kills”. Mrs. Mallard’s joy from her new-gained freedom along with the disappointment of seeing her husband was the cause of her death. In the same fashion, the title is a reference to Mrs. Mallard’s shortly gained freedom and happiness; an hour of having taken her power back. Mrs. Mallard was unhappy with her husband because of her inability to have her own opinion, and consequently, these ideologies are also shown through the stereotypes and gender roles that attack her.
From the first sentence of the story, it is implied that women have to act and be a certain way. These stereotypes are not only advocated by the protagonist but are also the cause of the emotional and societal complications in her life. Specifically, it is a physical complication in Mrs. Mallard’s life that reinforces her own gender stereotypes, something that she cannot control. For instance, Mrs. Mallard is described by the author as someone “afflicted with heart trouble,” and “great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death.” Not only does this apply to her physical heart complication, but it also applies to the idea that all women are sensitive and emotional. Furthermore, it is the people around Mrs. Mallard that reinforce these stereotypes by acting this way. It is an example of the societal influence that the people around her had established. In addition to having others around her support these gender roles, Mrs. Mallard takes these reflections to the point where she strives to fight off the feeling of joy she feels after her husband’s death. The prejudices placed on her create this self-conflict in which she “was striving to beat it back with her will as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been”. Not only does this showcase that Mrs. Mallard was a ‘product’ of her time as she fights this new feeling of freedom, however; it also ironically encourages the stereotypes set upon her as the author describes Mrs. Mallard to fit the idea that all women should be powerless. As a matter of fact, Kate Chopin uses symbolism to promote this idea of self-conflict within women and having adjusted to society’s standards. For example, Kate Chopin uses the symbolism of the chair and the open window to represent the comfortable life that she has been accustomed to. The narrator says, “there stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair.” The armchair symbolizes the security and comfort of the stereotypes she has adjusted to, whereas in comparison to the open window, it represents the freedom and power to break away from those stereotypes. Kate Chopin used the imagery such as, tops of trees that were all aquiver with new life in the open window to promote the idea of liberation. These are all examples of breakingAdditionally, Mrs. Mallard from the very beginning is inferred as ‘not like other women, which is generalizing women into how they should be and act like. The narrator states, “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance.” The importance of these examples is shown through the liberation of Mrs. Mallard following her husband’s death, where that freedom disappears at his arrival. This not only connects to the essential fact that Mrs.Mallard’s life was controlled before death, but her death itself was controlled by her husband a man. Mrs. Mallard, as a character, is a great example of the product of years of societal repression.
As can be seen, “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is a great example of the reinforcement of gender stereotypes during the 19th century. Kate Chopin portrays these stereotypes in her short story using the main protagonist and how they handle their own oppression. This main theme of the story following liberation versus patriarchy is portrayed in both an entertaining but educational way. Kate Chopin presents freedom as a treasure that should be taken care of, and how patriarchy is an important aspect of learning how society has evolved, and matured into something where equality is an option. The importance of spreading awareness on this topic is what makes this story relevant today as it applies to these modern issues. In order to prevent these gender roles and stereotypes from continuing to harm women and men, research is needed to be done to learn from our past mistakes.
Gender Lens in Story of an Hour
Looking through the Story of an Hour through a gender lens made it easier to view the story. For example, The man and the women act differently and respond to things differently throughout the passage. The man and the women have different roles in the story, the man is supposed to be the powerful, strong, and determined and the one who makes the money while the woman is supposed to stay home and make dinner and clean the house up. There is a gender stereotype in the story of how the man is supposed to treat the woman and how the woman is supposed to act or how the woman does everything at home while the man goes to work. You can see in the story of how the woman reacts to the mand dying you would expect her to be crying sad and heartbroken but she is happy and feels free that her husband has died.
The gender lens in the story has many different points towards the woman and the man. The man is supposed to have the power in the story and have the dominance over the woman. When the husband dies, the woman finally feels open and free and like a weight has been lifted off of her. “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 air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves”. From this quote from the book you can see how the woman feels and how it is different than what society thought it would be. The woman finally feels free and feels like she has the power now since her husband has died and can’t be stereotyped by society anymore.
In Story of an Hour the man is supposed to set the rules for the woman and tell them what to do.Louis is husband is the one working and gaining all the power and money when louise can’t because of the stereotype that society has on woman.. She can’t express herself or the way she feels towards this to anyone or society because society forbids it. “Due to her unhappiness in marriage, she ends up getting a heart disease that weakens her immune system”. This explains how she feels during the marriage and how she cannot speak up or say anything to anyone because of society and the way they look at gender. Louise feels as if she can’t do anything in her marriage because of society and the way society portrays women and what they are supposed to do.
In society woman want to be able to do what they want and have freedome and not be stereotyped or have rules set by society. In the book louise wants freedome and to be out of the marriage but she can’t get that because society doesn’t approve of it so she feels un happy and sad in the marriage. Louise no matter how much she tries can’t do anything because of society and the way they treat woman. “‘free! Free! Free!” This is how louise reacts to her husband passing how. She feels free and happy that her husband has died and feels like she has beaten society.
Looking through the Story of an Hour through a gender lens made it easier to view the story. Society treats the women as if they are nothing and suppose to do nothing while the men can do anything. The man and the women have different roles in the story, the man has more power and wealth than the woman. Louise feels very unhappy with the marriage and with the way society and the man treat her. There is a gender stereotype in the story of how the man is supposed to treat the woman and how the woman is supposed to act.. You can see in the story of how the woman reacts to the man dying, you would expect her to be crying, sad and heartbroken but she is happy and feels free that her husband has died.
Theme of Gaining Freedom as a Woman in the Chrysanthemums and the Story of an Hour
The Concept of Freedom is an Ongoing Endeavor in Today’s Society
In America, freedom is boundless however, in the 19th-century freedom was nonexistent for most women. There are many similarities between the characters in John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” and Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” The main character and protagonist in “The Chrysanthemums” is Elisa, while that of ‘The Story of an Hour” is Mrs. Mallard. In both stories, the authors describe women who are longing for a sense of freedom. The similarities between the main characters in “The Chrysanthemums” and “The Story of an Hour,” are the characters and their yearning for equality. Elisa and Mrs. Mallard are both dynamic characters. A dynamic character is a character that undergoes a series of changes throughout the narrative, primarily due to the conflicts a character faces on their journey.
Throughout both stories, the characters go through a series of sudden changes. Mrs. Mallard finds that her husband has passed away, and at the end of the narrative she discovers he was alive after all. She happens to die from heart troubles of the sudden news. During the time she finds out about her husband’s passing, she feels a sense of liberation. At first, when she was given the news she wept in unexpected moments. “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.” Afterward, Mrs. Mallard had an overwhelming feeling take over her. She now realizes she is independent again. The reader easily experiences the happiness she feels, with the repetition of the word, free. “She said it over and over her breath: ‘free, free, free!” At the very end of the narrative, she is shocked by the sight of her husband being alive. Mrs. Mallard’s shock at the sight of her husband ends in her death of a heart attack. Mrs. Mallard goes through a series of unexpected changes, which shapes her character as dynamic. Mrs. Mallard’s character is therefore developed throughout the narrative in a short amount of time and her character reveals many values that made her the way she was. She is a woman with a desire for freedom that was deprived by a man in marriage. She is very emotional because her freedom was denied for the second time. Her freedom was taken by her husband who was mistaken to have died, yet when she sees him she collapses and dies. The contrast is when the writer says that, “She had died of heart disease…of the joy that kills” . In “The Chrysanthemums” Elisa is battling with a similar sense of freedom that Mrs. Mallard faced. Elisa is craving for liberation in her life. She lives on a farm with her husband and spends her days tending the flowers, specifically chrysanthemums. Elisa is displayed as a strong woman, strong enough to break the back of a calf. A tinker comes along, while Elisa ‘s husband is at work. He asks Elisa if she needs any repairments. She agrees to give the tinker some work, and he sharpens her gardening scissors. Elisa also gives the tinker some of her chrysanthemums. Elisa was concentrating on the man, presumably in a sexual way.
“Kneeling there, her hand went out toward his legs in the greasy black trousers. Her hesitant fingers almost touched the cloth. Then her hand dropped to the ground.” The feelings she grasps are passionate, sexual feelings. As she has to stop herself from touching the man’s pants. At the end of the narrative, we find that Elisa isn’t as strong as we thought. She sees that the tinker threw the chrysanthemum sprouts on the side of the road and she starts to cry. Elisa goes through another change and snaps back to the reality of her present life. “The Story of an Hour” and “The Chrysanthemums” were both written in the early 19th century. During this time period, women struggled for equality, and for most women liberation was a continuous fight. In ‘The Chrysanthemums, the struggle for equality is portrayed through Steinbeck’s character Elisa. According to Stanley Renner, ‘The Chrysanthemums’ shows ‘a strong, capable woman kept from personal, social, and sexual fulfillment by the prevailing conception of a woman’s role in a world dominated by men’. The frustration is evident when her husband lacks to show appreciation of the beautiful garden she is tending. “Some of those yellow chrysanthemums you had this year were ten inches across. I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big.” Instead of showing appreciation toward her garden, her husband wants Elisa to work in the orchard, something that will benefit his farm. Elisa’s husband saw her as a housewife and a gardener. He shows little appreciation towards the chrysanthemums. If the chrysanthemums were to die, so would Elisa. The closer one looks at the story, the reader can see how Elisa is being imprisoned by men. John Steinbeck provides the reader with the message of Elisa being imprisoned, by mentioning Elisa’s fence in the story. “Elisa started at the sound of her husband’s voice. He had come near quietly, and had leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs and chickens.” That “wire fence” kept her trapped from the freedom she is yearning for in her life. The wire fence is a symbol for herself. The fence isolates her from the real world, and as long as she stays inside the fence she will be safe.
According to Mark Cunningham, ‘The Story of an Hour’ portrays the position of women in the nineteenth-century American society, as the attempt to break from the life-denying limitations of a patriarchal society.” Mrs. Mallard is similar to the character Elisa, in the narrative “The Chrysanthemums,” because they both desired freedom. When Mrs. Mallard is told the news of her husband’s death, she is at first emotional. “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself, she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.” Mrs. Mallard thought that life would be long. She now ” saw a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened an spread her arms out to them in welcome.” Instead of hearing the news of her husband’s death (as many women would have heard the same), with a feeling of denial, an overwhelming sense of freedom took over her. Mrs. Mallard has an epiphany, a sudden realization that she is free. Chopin captures a marriage that is dominated by man. Mr. Mallard clearly doesn’t treat his wife with great matters. This is showed because Mrs. Mallard is at peace, even if her husband is dead. Women during this time had little to no independence in their households. Women were expected to accommodate their husbands with many household chores. The story implies the way that society was during the 19th century and the resistance of women’s rights.
The story shows the resistance by Mrs. Mallard’s death of the sight of her husband. Another instance is when Mrs. Mallard’s sister is worried she is making herself sick, during her time of grieving. However, Mrs. Mallard is revealing her freedom. Both her husband and sister intervene in her life, essentially demonstrating that her freedom is impossible to hold. Through Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts, the reader can see a clear view of the aspects of the patriarchal society. Mrs. Mallard didn’t realize how confined she was until she was no longer constricted in her marriage.
Sense of Freedom in “Woman Hollering Creek”, “Story of an Hour” & “A Rose for Miss Emily”
Woman Hollering Creek, Story of an Hour and A Rose for Miss Emily have many similarities with symbolism, characters, and societies expectation of women around that time period. With such dominant societal views concerning female gender roles, these three stories all have connections of how love and fear go hand in hand with acquiring your own freedom or even the loss of your freedom.
Cultural and societal views have had a major impact on both men and women for hundreds years. However, the standards for women have been unfair and unrealistic. Women had to abide by these roles and stay home and cook, take care of the household as well as take care of their Husband. Having to live this role makes a woman feel like they don’t have any sort of independence and they are property of their Husband instead of feeling like an equal in the relationship.
In the story Woman Hollering Creek, Cleofilas has a fairy tale way of looking at relationships. When she gets married her Father reminds her that he would “never throw her away.” Growing up with only a Father figure who took one the role of Mother and Father, Cleofila’s relied on Telenovelas for her insight on what a real relationship should be like. After moving to the U.S with her new husband, she promptly realized that she would not be living the lavish lifestyle of what she had seen in the Telenovelas. Moving to the U.S didn’t make Cleofilas a free independent woman. In fact, moving only made her more of a captive in this toxic marriage.
In Story of an Hour, Mrs. Mallard didn’t necessarily have a physically abusive relationship with Mr. Mallard, in fact, quite opposite of what Cleofilas and her Husband had. Mr. Mallard was extremely loving and caring to Mrs. Mallard. However, Mrs. Mallard felt suffocated and feared she would never be able to live her own life. With Mrs. Mallards heart troubles and having to stay home with an overbearing kind of love, she was trapped.
Having to abide by stereotypical gender roles, both of women felt captive, defenseless and dependent. However, Miss Emily’s captivity was much like Cleofilas with the fact the love of her Fathers was all she had known. When her Father died, she refused to accept the fact that her Father was gone and kept the body for in her house before giving her father a proper burial. Miss Emily had an attachment to a love that she never got, only a Fathers love. She feared letting go, and feared she would never truly be loved. The only way to acquire freedom is to take action yourself. Gathering up the courage to take your own action and do something without having a man’s approval was extremely rare in this time period. Even in today’s society it can be hard to gather the courage to let go of a toxic relationship and do what you need to do for yourself. With Cleofilas being physically and mentally abused regularly, things were far from a fairy tale life. Cleofilas knew this was not the life she had wanted and her husband was not the man she had envisioned marrying. It’s easy to see how Cleofilas had such a misunderstanding of what a real-life relationship is compared to the ones she had always seen on the Telenovelas.
Gender roles were very prominent around this time period. Women are supposed to have specific duties and ways to carry themselves, not only in society but also at home. Being controlled by your Husband was normal. Men ran the household. Women were expected to stay home, cook and clean, remain classy as well as obedient. One day at a routine checkup, her bruises were noticed at the doctor’s office. Cleofilas got her big break. Felice and Cleofilas headed to the Greyhound. Felice was not like any woman Cleofilas had ever seen. Felice was exquisite to Cleofilas. Felice had broken the stereotypical gender role. This was way out of the norm of how a woman was supposed to act. She was bold, independent and even owned her own truck. She was her own women! It showed Cleofilas this could be her fresh start, she could do this without Juan Pedro. Mrs. Mallard’s decision wasn’t as hard, she didn’t have to run away. When Mrs. Mallard’s thought her husband had died, she had a sense of freedom.
She could finally breathe, and live her own life. Mrs. Mallard didn’t have to make the decision for herself to leave her own marriage, the decision was made for her. It was the easiest way out. However, with Miss. Emily, she made the decision that she would not let Homer leave her, ever. Her fear of losing love drove her to an unstable mental state. Miss. Emily wanted love so badly, she was willing to give up her own freedom for love. When Cleofilas and Felice crossed the creek and Felice let out her yell, it represented her freedom. The creek represents the path that is feared, the path that is less traveled. Even the name of the creek seems very intimidating, and almost dark. The path that Cleofilas needed to take was also intimidating and frightening. Gathering the courage to get on the path less traveled to leave her husband took someone else helping her, but she finally did it. Leaving her ‘love’ meant freedom. Mrs. Mallard had heart problems which not only represented a physical disease, but it also represented an emotional condition for her as well. Her heart troubles simulated having trouble with her marriage, with love.
How Kate Chopin Uses a Marxist Lens in the Story of an Hour
The Marxist Lens as It Relates to “The Story of an Hour”
To the untrained eye, a story could be viewed one-dimensionally; a tale might only appeal to emotion while logic is left out in the cold. Equally, logic may be forgotten while emotion is heavily focused on. However, through the use of Critical Lenses, readers can begin to see greater depth in literature. As readers find connections through Critical Lenses, they become more educated on various topics, more aware of social, political, and even logical abstractions. Instead of failing to retain the intent and content of the material, they even can remember details of stories more vividly when truly examining literature rather than reading it once for entertainment (or chore). Lenses help readers to focus in on literature in more specific ways, in turn, readers understand more concepts and how they apply to unique areas of life, human emotion, and thought. One such lens is the Marxist lens which focuses mainly on the social, political, and economic aspects which are underlaid beneath many compositions. It might surprise readers to know that, by the use of this lens, traces of these subjects can be found in almost any work despite the original nature and intent of the tale. A prime example demonstrating the power of the Marxist lens can be seen when the lens is applied to Kate Chopin’s short story, “The Story of an Hour”. This short conte depicts the brief sentiment of freedom felt by the fictitious character Mrs. Mallard as she learns that her husband has been killed in a railroad accident. However, her blissful reverie is put to death by death itself when her husband, alive and well, walks through the doors of their home to meet her. On the surface, this would appear to be a tale void of social, political, or economic association; how could such logical themes develop in such an emotional tale? Yet, the Marxist lens can even be applied to this story and reveal revelations in the tale that might not be seen without the lens. The social, political, and economic characteristics of the Marxist lens can clearly be seen in Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”.
The social element of the Marxist lens can be heavily applied to understanding the depth of “The Story of an Hour” in a greater way. While reading the story without a critical lens, readers might only see Mrs. Mallard as odd and misfortunate but with the Marxist lens, it becomes apparent that more social concepts line the character and her tale. An example of a social concept seen in this story is Feminism versus the traditional views of a woman and her “place”. Mrs. Mallard represents a woman trapped by traditional views but is longing to break free from social norms. As Mrs. Mallard declares, “Free! Body and soul free!” (356), the reader can clearly grasp the understanding that her marriage was viewed at as bondage, even though her husband was perceived as kind and gentle. It is almost scandalous that a woman would joy over her kind husband’s death and rejoice over freedom in body and spirit. At this point in the story, Mrs. Mallard is claiming rights over her body, her mind, her thoughts, her decisions, and her actions. In 1894, when this story was published, such a concept was scandalous, to say the least, but Mrs. Mallard doesn’t even stop to consider this; the idea of freedom over herself is so much larger than the fear of society. On the contrary, her sister Josephine portrays the classic woman of the day. By her name, Josephine is given her own identity, whereas Mrs. Mallard tries to break from under her husband’s identity; though Josephine is given this freedom of identity, she is so consumed by traditional views that she behaves just as any other woman of the day. Though the story opens with a line of how fragile Mrs. Mallard is, she is strong, brave and resilient; Josephine is truly the one portrayed as emotional, worrisome, and fragile; she fears this change in her sister, this break from social norms. These two sisters are examples of feminism versus traditionalist views and how they exist to war against each other. Through the Marxist lens, readers can see the uprising of social issues and conversations in literature.
Not only does “The Story of an Hour” help readers to see social issues through the Marxist lens, they can also grasp political concepts as well; in truth, the social issues go hand in hand with political discussions. At the time that Chopin wrote this short story, the women’s rights movement was less than 50 years in the making and relatively new to the western world; the empowering of women was not only social but also political. Though it was over 20 years after this short story was written that women gained the right to vote, it was smaller scale moves, like publishing this story, that sparked an enormous change in how women were approached politically. It was quotes such as this that troubled the waters of traditionalist views of the day, “…she would live for herself” (357). Mrs. Mallard would live to be her own provider, her own decision maker, and her own fulfillment. With the power of free will at her disposal, there would be no limits to the things she could do, but the idea of a woman with such power over herself was outrageous to the social and political culture of the day. Tales such as these would spark a rebellion in women and this social break would, in turn, cause political changes which led to women’s rights to vote, to gain protection from harassment, and to be treated equally with men.
The third part of the Marxist lens is the economic aspect; by this, readers can understand the economic state of a character and how that might relate to real people of that time period. In “The Story of an Hour”, Mrs. Mallard’s dwelling place is described as a house with multiple rooms, two stories, comfortable furniture. Mrs. Mallard does not work and never thinks of an impoverished new life, she only thinks of freedom to go and do as she pleases. All of these elements make it clear that she is at least of middle-class stature, if not high class. When she says, “Free, free, free” (357), perhaps she is referring to social, political, and economic freedom. As a wealthy widow, she would be able to continue a life of grandeur without the strain of a man’s control upon her life. Every financial decision would be hers to make, every purchase, every expense. All that she cared about was freedom to make her own choices in every area of her life.
Through the Marxist lens, readers gain insight into the lives of characters and they see how these characters and their stories relate to their lives as individuals. Equally, they can see how different the characters are from them and their lives. No matter what tale or composition, readers can begin to make new discoveries with the complex, yet simple, Marxist lens. With this lens, readers can begin to comprehend any topic as it relates to the three elements of the Marxist lens; whether it be human emotion or bondages, readers can apply the Marxist lens to these topics. Yet, with Chopin’s tale hand in hand with the Marxist lens, readers can understand what freedom means, not only to characters, but to them in society, in politics, and in economics.
The Story of an Hour : Mrs. Mallard Disagreement to Marriage
Too many individuals in western society, marriage is a spiritual union between two people who are in love with one another. However, others may view it as a mere contract that bounds them for eternity. Mrs. Mallard is a character who views marriage in a negative light. In “The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, a combination of literary devices and liberating mood depicts marital oppression for females in the nineteenth century.
Visual imagery is the first literary device that highlights the meaning of the story. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with new spring life…patches of blue sky showing here and there….” (Pg. 179-180) The scene is set after Mrs. Mallard is given the unfortunate news that her husband had passed away. However, the visual imagery in this story depicts a beautiful sunny day in the spring. Spring is a season with positive connotations. When identifying it, the reader associates this word with new beginnings and happiness. This creates a positive mood that contrasts with the death of Mrs. Mallard’s husband. A description of rain, thunder, and gloomy skies would have been more appropriate. The delightful atmosphere of this literary work foreshadows the fact that Mr. Mallard’s passing might not have been so unfortunate after all.
Personification plays a key role in conveying the protagonist’s negative view of marriage. “She felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air…she was beginning to recognize the thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back at her will.” (Pg. 180) Mrs. Mallard’s feeling was personified as this unstoppable force rushing toward her. Chopin’s utilization of repetition only intensifies her emotion. “She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!” (Pg. 180) Her sudden apparent feeling turned out to be that of intense joy. It was so powerful that it took over her mind, body, and soul. In her time, women were pressured by society to marry and serve under their husbands. Since she was unable to survive without a man, Mrs. Mallard was unable to live life the way she wanted to. This oppresses women by not giving them a choice to be anything more than a housewife and child bearer. Like the spring season, the death of her husband meant a new beginning in her life. She would have full control of the house and fortune. Her view of marriage along with the use of personification and repetition creates a liberating mood. The reader can feel Mrs. Mallard’s emotions of freedom and empowerment.
Chopin concludes her point with a touch of cosmic irony. “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of joy that kills.” (Pg. 181) It turns out that Mr. Mallard was alive and well the entire time. This causes Mrs. Mallard to die of a heart attack the moment she sees him. The overwhelming feeling of disappointment was too much for her heart to take. This is also dramatic irony since everyone character believed Mrs. Mallard died of uncontrollable joy. As suggested in the title, her freedom was but a mere illusion that only lasted for an hour. She was no longer able to make her own decisions and be her own person. Her disappointment highlights the fact that she had enough of feeling trapped in her marriage.
In “The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, a combination of literary devices and liberating mood portray marital oppression in the nineteenth century. The protagonist’s reaction to her husband being dead and alive depicts her struggle of confinement that marriage had provided for her. Chopin pushed societal boundaries by challenging this accepted concept of women being legally treated as property. She had given a voice to the housewives who were unable to express the same views through Mrs. Mallard.
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
Death can have different meanings to a person. Sometimes people get joy from it and most of the times they do not. Most widows would respond in a sorrowful way towards their husband’s death, but Louise responded in a untroubled mannered. The main character gets overjoyed from her husband’s death because she believed she gained the freedom that she had lost with her husband. The protagonist believes she has no freedom; she is enslaved by her husband; the anecdote opens with Louise believing she is a free woman and believing she has a new start to her new life. In the Story of an Hour, it demonstrates a patriarchal society where male dominance is so something ordinary, where women are looked upon as weak and frail without a male authority.
In “The Story of an Hour,” we discover that Mrs. Mallard has problems with her heart, so when her husband dies, her family had to be extra careful into breaking the news of her husband’s death; that he has been killed in a railroad accident. She (Louise) at first feels numb and in total shock at first, and wants to be completely alone in order to process her loss. Once Louise is alone, she notices something she have not seen in a long time, she notices the alluring, attractive beauty nature outside her window, after that moment to herself she begins to feel optimistic about life. She begins to think about all the good time to herself she will now have, now that her husband is dead. Louise whispers to herself, “Free! Body and soul free!” as she knows she will regret it all once she sees her husband’s dead body at the funeral; although there is no evidence in the text that her husband was rude or abusive towards her. Louise seems unsure of what she feels towards her husband, but it was not love, though at the end of the story, she seems to be looking forwards to her future as a widow, but as she leaves her room, Brently Mallard opens the door and walks inside her home. She breaks down the news to her and tells her that there was a mistake, and that he husband was not on the train. Louise then dies from the disturbance, and unexpectedly, it is assumed that she died of “the joy that kills” the people that were there assumed she was so delighted to see her husband alive that she died of the shock.
But in reality, she died from the shock to learn that the future that she mused was just a helpless dream, “all sort of days that would be her own,” will now be difficult. A critical feminist perspective of this short story would center on the expectations placed upon women by the establishment of marriage, this is demonstrated in the story “There would be no one to live for 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. A kind intention or a cruel intention made… moment of illumination”. This is a great example of the expectations of a late 19th century marriage. That the husband had to be the one “to Impose his will” towards its wife. When Louise believes that “A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no lessa crime,” we the readers see that the actual problem is not with the people but with her marriage. Even though her husband was mean nor a bad husband, he was kind to her and had all the right intentions, he the husband still had all the power in the relationship because man have more power and are controlled of everything in the women’s life.
Therefore, louise was not a free woman, she felt worthless. She would always do as he said; she must “live for” his husband rather than for herself. A feminist perspective shows how marriages do not allow women to feel any perception of freedom. There is inequality between both genders to the cutting edge is one of the main desires of a feminist literary disapproval. A main critical feminist viewpoint of this short story focuses on women abuse back in the 19th century, and especially in marriages back then. During that period of time, women were “owned by their husbands or male figure” and had little to no freedom over their live. Chopin tells us the tragedy of this situation, through a devoted observation of the main character as well as the expressive details of the short story. One sign of the main character’s abuse is in the beginning sentence where she is named “Mrs. Mallard”. Her husband is given a first name, but the main character is just not revealed until much later in the story; she is only known as the wife of Brently Mallard. Then much later as she is handling the “death” of her husband, Louise describes her marriage life if it was a crime. “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.” Louise admits to herself that her husband was not a bad man nor a bad husband, but just the fact that she had a controlling husband that had her all controlled with no self-freedom, she felt abused. She feels deprived from her life; lifeless.
The feminist perspective that is shown in The Story of an Hour, is that the sensation of freedom that Louise did not have but experience after she was told that her husband was killed in a train accident, For 60 minutes Louise praised the wonder of being unchained from a commanding husband. The author’s purpose is to make women seem powerful after their husband’s deaths. Kate Chopin the author of the anecdote is going against society norms after losing their significant other. Characters in the anecdote demonstrate how people viewed Louise after her husband’s death. It reveals how society views widows as helpless and weak individuals; without a male figure dominance in their lives; although that is not how Louise felt.
Comparison between “The Necklace” and “The Story of an Hour” stories
The setting for Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” and Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” take place during the 1800s when men played the dominant role over women. In both stories the protagonists are each yearning for a better life and each struggle to find it in a slightly different way.
Kate Chopin and Guy de Maupassant both use imagery and symbolism at its best. In describing Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to her husband’s death, “The tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life…The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.” Immediately the symbol of a sparrow twittering gives you the impression of rebirth. The trees were all aquiver with new spring life symbolizes a new beginning. A fresh start.
In “The Necklace” Guy de Maupassant uses the following imagery and symbol, “She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her.” Again, here you get the impression of a drab unhappy home with all the material things tattered and worn as a symbol of possessions that are old, aging and dreary. Obviously, these are not the things that would make her happy and provide the feeling of being young and vibrant. Although the Loisel’s are not in the lowest economic class Madam Loisel dreams of being rich. Guy de Maupassant also uses lists. This is to highlight the fact that she feels like she can name so many things wrong with her life and so many things she wants.
Both stories use irony to make a point. In “The Necklace” Madame Loisel is invited to a prestigious ball and borrows a necklace which she thought was very expensive and lost it. Madame Loisel and her husband knew that they had to replace the necklace and saved for 10 years. Madam Loisel bumps into Madame Forrestier and is told that the necklace which she thought was diamonds were fake. In “The Story of an Hour” when Mrs. Mallard’s husband appears at the doorstep very much alive and Mrs. Mallard sees him, she is the one who collapses and dies from the shock of his being alive “She had died of heart-disease of joy that kills”. Both writers send the message that all the suffering could have been avoided had they been satisfied with what they already had instead of chasing rainbows.
The Analysis Of The Short Story “The Story Of An Hour” By Kate Chopin
The Depressed to Ecstatic State of Being of Mrs. Mallard
In the short story, “The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, the author provides two examples of the literary technique of irony to enrich and support the theme, “nothing is as it seems.” Kate Chopin uses both situational and verbal irony in different instances in the story. She uses situational irony to reveal the implausible happiness that Mrs. Mallard experiences, after seeing her husband alive, after her husband’s supposedly subsequent death. The author uses verbal irony to explicate Mrs. Mallard’s change in her state of being from being depressed and sad to being joyous and ecstatic. The first instance of verbal irony is used to explain the shift of mood of Mrs. Mallard. When she yells, “Free, Free, Free”! Mrs. Mallard, “carrie herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory”.
In the story, a friend informs Mrs. Mallard regarding the death of her husband in a tragic accident. As a result, Mrs. Mallard feels depressed and saddened by the report and heads to her room to isolate herself and to grief. Her family including Josephing are worried for her, especially her health due to her heart troubles. It is presumed by the family, including Josephine that there is an interturomoil in Mrs. Mallard because of the loss of her husband. However, in the room, there is self-reflection by Mrs. Mallard which is done by looking at nature, and trying to look for a message in the blue sky. She realizes that she and her husband had a well marriage, that was supported by love between both couples.
Nevertheless, the widow realizes that her husband was focused on his own lust and ambition and truly had no compassion towards Mrs. Mallard. Also, Mrs. Mallard had no say in the marriage and was constantly enforced by her husband to do what was best for her wife rather than allowing her to figure out things for herself. Suddenly, she experiences jubilation and a monstrous joy subsequently because she now realizes that she has new sense of freedom and can pursue a life of independence. Mrs. Mallard realizes that her husband’s passing allows her to discover a world without the oppressive backlash of her husband, and his passing displays the different attitude and mindset she has toward life, as well as to live a life that is fueled by determination to live a life that she has always wanted. This example exhibits verbal irony because the reader assumes that Mrs. Mallard would experience depression from the tragic news of her husband, but in reality she sees the bigger outcome of her husband’s death and feels rejoiced.The second and final example of dramatic irony in the story displays the shock and the ensuing death of Mrs. Mallard as a result of her presumed death husband, alive. Mrs. Mallard, “did of heart disease-of joy that kills”.
The family and the doctor believe that the cause of death for Mrs. Mallard was the overwhelming joy that was associated with seeing her husband again. However, the read can imply, based on the information gathered by the self reciton of the protagonist, that she died of shock that her husband was still alive, and that she would have to live a live with an oppressive husband, and her freedoms and independence would disappear. Mr. Mallard walks through the doors, acting as if nothing had happened, even though Louis believes that he is dead, because her friend receives a second telegram confirming this news. Mrs. Mallard did not expect that the man she loathed would be back, and this reality check really triggered upset and disgust, and her resulting death.
Kate Chopin, in the short story, “The Story of an Hour”, uses irony including dramatic and verbal irony, which is found throughout the story to explain the theme, “nothing is as it seems”, and the changes that are experienced by Mrs. Mallard such as her state of being, attitude, and personality. Mrs. Mallard changing from being depressed to ecstatic in spite of the devastating news of her husband is ironic, as well as her shocked reaction as well as her death by seeing her husband, Mr. Mallard. The author use of irony allows the reader to understand a more broader meaning of the story and the message, including the theme that is present, throughout the story.