The Story Of An Hour
Protagonists in Literature Compare and Contrast Essay
In many stories the protagonists see themselves differently from the way other people in the story see them. To elaborate this statement we will focus on two stories; the story of an hour by Kate Chopin and the stolen party by Liliana Hecker. In both of these stories the aspect of the protagonist seeing themselves in a different way as opposed to others in the story has been clearly brought out.
The story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
The story of an hour was written by Kate Chopin in 1894. The protagonist in this story is a woman called Mrs. Louise Mallard who has a heart problem. On learning the news about her husband`s death, her sister Josephine and her husband`s friend Richard are having a hard time in coming up with a way which they will break down the sad news to Mrs. Mallard. This is because she has got a heart problem hence if the message is not communicated in the best way possible severe consequences might follow.
Both her sister and her husband`s friend are worried on the best means to pass this message to her because of her health condition. This is because it is not easy for anyone to hear and accept the news of the death of someone they loved, especially a spouse one has spent many years living together.
That is why her sister, while breaking the news down to her, used broken sentences and veiled hints that revealed the theme of the message but not its real content. We are told that, “It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing” (Berkove 153). Richard also had to be sure that the message about the death of his friend was true before telling it to the wife.
That is why after receiving the news of his death, he had to assure himself by another telegram. Josephine and Richard at this point see Mrs. Ballard as weak both physically and emotionally thus taking this news is going to be very difficult for her.
On receiving the news, Mrs. Ballard broke down into tears immediately and went to her room to have some time alone. While in the room she discovered that she was not really sad, but instead it is like she became free from her misery and will be able to live the rest of her life for herself and herself alone. In the story we are told that, “She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her……….
She said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free!” (Berkove 154). Instead of being sad she felt relieved and free unlike what Josephine and her sister thought. This is because she is the only one who knew the suffering she was undergoing in that marriage and that she did not always love her husband.
The Stolen Party by Liliana Hecker
This story is about a young girl called Rosaura who had been invited by to a friend’s birthday party. Although Rosaura thought that Luciana was her friend, Rosaria’s mother thought otherwise. This is because she was their maid and her daughter will not be viewed any different.
However, Rosaura had been spending a lot of time with Luciana, playing together and even helping each other with their homework. She had never felt any negative attitude from her friend or her family and this made her to believe that she was a friend and not the maid’s daughter and that is why she did not want to moss the party.
Her mother on the other hand thought her daughter was putting herself in a class she did not belong to; the class of the rich. That is why she told her, “The problem with you, young lady, is that you like to fart higher than your ass” (Gwendolyn 2007). Not trying to kill her hopes, she prepared for her a cute dress to wear in the party and even made her hair to look beautiful.
While at the party, Rosaura felt part and parcel of the occasion because she was interacting well with all the other kids except from the girl with a bow on her hair. This girl clearly stated that she knew all of Luciana friends but did not know Rosaura nor even heard of her. From her talk Rosaura remembered her mother’s words and admitted angrily that she was the daughter of an employee who somehow brought down her self esteem.
However her self esteem was rejuvenated when Sefiora Ines asked Rosaura to assist her in serving the food and hotdogs. She even had the privilege of serving the cake which made her feel so powerful. While playing charades all the boys wanted her to be on their teams. All this made this party to be the best one in her life.
While leaving the party every kid was being given a present; a bracelet for a girl and a yoyo for a boy. However, Sefiora Ines did not give Rosaura a bracelet or a yoyo but gave her money and told her, “Thank you for all your help, my pet” (Gwendolyn 2007). This made Rosaura to finally realize that she was just the daughter of the maid and nothing more. All her thoughts were just a huge illusion.
Berkove, Lawrence . Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour.
American Literary Realism 32.2 (2000): 152-158.
Gwendolyn, Diaz. Women and Power in Argentine Literature. Stories, Interviews, and Critical Essays. Texas. University of Texas Press (2007).
“The Story of an Hour” Critical Essay
“The Story of an Hour” was written by Kate Chopin in 1984. It describes a woman, Mrs. Mallard, who lost her husband in an accident but later the truth came out, and the husband was alive. This essay will discuss the story of an hour with emphasis on plot and development of the protagonist; Mrs. Mallard who goes through contrasting emotions and feelings that finally kill her on meeting the husband at the door and yet he had been said to be dead.
Kate Chopin narrated the story of a woman Mrs. Mallard who had a health problem of the heart. One day the husband was mistaken to have died in an accident that occurred. Due to her heart condition, her sister had to take care while breaking the bad news to her. She was afraid that such news of her husband’s death would cost her a heart attack. She strategized on how to break the news to her sister bit by bit, which worked perfectly well. Mrs. Mallard did not react as expected, but instead, she started weeping, just once.
She did not hear the story as many women have had the same with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. (Woodlief 2)
Mrs. Mallard wondered how she would survive without a husband. She went to one room and locked herself alone to ponder what the death of her husband brought to her life. She was sorrowful that her husband had died like it is human to be sad at such times. This is someone very close to her but only in a short span of time was no more. This sudden death shocked her. Her sister Josephine and friends Mr. Richard and Louise are also sorry for the loss (Taibah 1).
As she was in that room alone, she thought genuinely about the future. Unexpectedly, she meditated on her life without her husband. Apart from sorrow, she started counting the better part of her life without her husband. She saw many opportunities and freedom to do what she would like to do with her life. She believed that the coming years would be perfect for as she only had herself to worry about. She even prayed that life would be long.
After some time, she opens the door for Josephine, her sister who had a joyous face. They went down the stairs of the house, and Mr. Mallard appears as he opens the gate. Mr. Mallard had not been involved in the accident and could not understand why Josephine was crying. At the sight of her husband, Mr. Mallard, His wife Mrs. Mallard collapsed to death. The doctors said that she died because of heart disease.
Mrs. Mallard was known to have a heart problem. Richard, who is Mr. Mallard friend, was the one who learned of Mr. Mallard’s death while in the office and about the railroad accident that killed him. They are with Josephine, Mrs. Mallard’s sister as she broke the news concerning the sudden death of her husband. The imagery clearly described the situation.
The writer brought out the suspense in the way he described how the news was to be broken to a person with a heart problem. There is a conflict that then follows in Mrs. Mallard’s response which becomes more complicated. The death saddens Mrs. Mallard but on the other hand, counts beyond the bitter moments and sees freedom laid down for her for the rest of her life. Description of the room and the environment symbolize a desire for freedom.
This story mostly focuses on this woman and a marriage institution. Sad and happy moments alternate in the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard. She is initially sad for the loss of her husband, then in a moment ponders on the effects of his death and regains strength.
Within a short period, she is shocked by the sight of her husband being alive and even goes to the extreme of destroying her life. She then dies of a heart attack whereas she was supposed to be happy on seeing her husband alive. This is an excellent contrast of events, but it makes the story very interesting.
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 someone was singing reached her faintly and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves. There were 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. (Woodlief 1)
Therefore, an open window is symbolic. It represents new opportunities and possibilities that she now had in her hands without anyone to stop her, and she refers to it as a new spring of life.
She knew that she was not in a position to bring her husband back to life.
Her feelings were mixed up. Deep inside her, she felt that she had been freed from living for another person.
She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her… She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. (Sparknotes 1)
The author captured a marriage institution that was dominated by a man. This man, Mr. Mallard did not treat his wife as she would like (the wife) at all time, only sometimes. This Cleary showed that she was peaceful even if her husband was dead. Only some sorrow because of the loss of his life but not of living without him. It seemed that she never felt the love for her husband.
And yet she had loved him-sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this procession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being! (Woodlief 1)
How could a wife be peaceful at the death of her husband? Though people thought that she treasured husband Mr. Mallard so much, and afraid that she would be stressed, she did not see much of the bitterness like she found her freedom. This reveals how women are oppressed in silence but never exposed due to other factors such as wealth, money and probably outfits.
As much as wealth is essential, the characters Mr. and Mrs. Mallard despised the inner being. Their hearts were crying amid a physical smile: “Free! Body and soul free!”…Go away. I am not making myself ill.”No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window” (Woodlief 1).
In this excerpt, Mrs. Mallard knows what she was doing and believed that she was not harming herself. Instead, she knew that though the husband was important to her, marriage had made her a subject to him. This was not in a positive manner but was against her will. It seems she had done many things against her will, against herself but to please the husband.
Mrs. Mallard’s character is therefore developed throughout this story in a short time and reveals many values that made what she was. She is a woman with a big desire for freedom that was deprived by a man in marriage. She is very emotional because by seeing her freedom denied for the second time by the husband who was mistaken to have died she collapses and dies. The contrast is when the writer says, “She had died of heart disease…of the joy that kills” (Woodlief 1).
Mrs. Mallard was not able to handle the swings in her emotions and this cost her life. Mr. Mallard was left probably mourning for his wife that he never treasured. He took her for granted and has to face the consequences. Oppressing a wife or another person causes a more significant loss to the oppressor. It is quite ironical that Mr. Mallard never knew that his presence killed his wife.
Sparknotes. The Story of an hour. Sparknotes, 2011. Web.
Taibah. The Story of an hour. Taibah English Forum, 2011. Web.
Woodlief. The story of an hour. VCU, 2011. Web.
Further Study: FAQ
? Who is the protagonist in The Story of an Hour?
Louise Mallard, a young married woman with a heart condition, is the protagonist in the short story The Story of an Hour.
? When was The Story of an Hour written?
Kate Chopin wrote the short story on April 19, 1894. It was first published the same year, on December 6 in Vogue.
? What is The Story of an Hour about?
The story is about a young woman, Louise Mallard, who suffers from “heart trouble.” Upon receiving news about her husband’s alleged death, she feels freedom and happiness.
? What is the conclusion The Story of an Hour?
After coming to terms with her husband’s death, Louise Mallard feels satisfied with such a tragic event. However, an hour later, Mr.Mallard returns home. The shock and the sudden realization that her liberation was no longer attainable were the final straw for her weak heart. Louise died in an instant.
Theme of Gender in «The Story of an Hour» by Kate Chopin and «A Room of One’s Own» by Virginia Woolf Essay
In the novels, The Story of an Hour and A Room of One’s Own, the authors Kate Chopin and Virginia Woolf respectively explore the theme of gender. The protagonist in The Story of an Hour, Louise, lives in fear due to oppression from her husband.
On the other hand, the unknown narrator; the main character in the novel A Room of One’s Own addresses and criticizes the issue of gender inequality in her society. Although the main characters are fighting for women rights in the society, the rules and regulations put in place by men prevent women from reaching their goals or exploring their talents.
In the book, Story of an Hour, men control the behavior of women in the society. Therefore, every woman lives and adheres to the rules set by chauvinistic men. Louise, the protagonist is submissive and respects her husband despite his oppressive nature.
She does not own any property or money; an aspect that makes her fully dependent on Mallard. Additionally, the laws forbid her from openly expressing her emotions regardless of the situation she is undergoing.
Due to her unhappiness in marriage, she ends up getting a heart disease that weakens her immune system. On one occasion, Louise receives the bad news that her husband has died; interestingly, Louise mourns her husband as the society expects of her; Chopin posits, “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms” (Para. 3).
However, deep within, Louise wants freedom; actually she murmurs the words, ‘Free! Free! Free! Unfortunately, when her husband reappears she collapses and dies on the spot for her freedom is only but a wish. Louise’s joy, prayer, and subsequent death are a revelation of the freedom women hope to achieve in the society. Sadly, the presence of men becomes an obstacle as they gag this freedom.
On the other hand, in the story A Room of One’s Own, the society’s holds that, women should not own power or money. Additionally, women lack freedom, education, and respect from the men in the society. For instance, only men explore writing in the society because they have support and access to money.
Due to oppression of the girl child, her talents go unnoticed whereas the boy child fully explores his endowments. Unfortunately, fathers (men) use their daughters to acquire wealth in form of dowries. Women are inferior and society promotes their weakness, a fact that the narrator criticizes. The narrator pities women when she says “I look at the shouldering, their way along the pavement- is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle.
It calls for gigantic courage and strength” (Woolf 35). Surprisingly, men succeed in oppressing women as the narrator alludes to a story during her speech. She gives an example of twins, a boy and a girl, however only the boy achieves education while the girl (Judith) stays at home. Furthermore, Judith’s father wants to marry her off in order to get wealth, a fact that pushes her to commit suicide ending her life prematurely.
In summary, the authors of the two stories explore the theme of gender whereby women in the society face discrimination, which leads to tragic end in their lives. In Chopin’s story, Louise tolerates all manner of abuse from her husband; she even mourns his supposed death only to collapse at his reappearance a clear indication that inwardly she loathed his behavior but society could not listen to her cries.
In Woolf’s book, women cannot own property courtesy of tyrannical rules set by chauvinistic men. Girl child has no rights; not even the basic right to education. Generally, women are only to be seen, not heard. Therefore, the two authors touch on gender inequality albeit from different perspectives.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour (1984).” N.d. Web. <https://brians.wsu.edu/2016/11/07/kate-chopin-the-story-of-an-hour-1894/>
Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1989.
“The Story of an Hour” a Story by Kate Chopin Essay
“The story of an hour” by Kate Chopin is an outstanding narrative because it is amazing and full of emotions. In this story the authors describes how Mrs. Mallard who is the main character suffers a heart problem and how her husband dies, when presented with the horrific news about the death of her husband Mrs. Mallard goes to a state of emotional breakdown but which she eventually recovers from.
However, after her recovery she begins to feel freedom of soul as Chopin describes her state (15) which is a benefit since it relieves her of her husband memories. This story is typical of daily events of death in the society and I will therefore recommend it since it reflects an important theme in the society. In this paper I will discuss more reasons why this paper will relate well with readers of our magazine.
Foremost, I have chosen this fiction story because it is quite entertaining and not to mention it is full of conflicting emotions which shock the reader and will therefore be entertaining to read. As one reads the story, one is completely attached to it because it relates on the everyday occurrences in the society and all through the reader is entertained by the author’s humor in the paper and archetypal imagination.
Secondly, this particular fiction story is full of surprises and imagination (Chopin 5). As the reader goes through the story, one can clearly see the images of what is happening because of the detailed imagery depicted by the author in the story; it is these imageries that triggers the reader’s conflicting emotions.
In fact, as one reads the story a person is amazed by different events that leave one with imaginations because of the suspense created by the author such as in the way that one is left wondering what could have been the cause of Mrs. Mallard death towards the end of the story. This is a classical example of suspense in a story that leaves the reader yearning for more (Beam 29).
Additionally, this fictional story is very educative; as much as the story is full of emotions its educative value is well elaborated throughout. The readers will therefore also be enlightened about so many things as they read this particular fiction story especially in the sequence of the events that eventually leads to emotional breakdown. Therefore, this fiction story is a good work of art because it provides the reader with the understanding of the role of women in the society.
Moreover, this fictional story is also full of visual effects (Hood). One aspect that makes this fictional story to be outstanding is the fact that readers will feel as if they are watching the events unfold. The way the events have been described by the author makes the readers to visualize the whole story and this helps to make them understand it and be more entertained.
For instance, when Mrs. Mallard is told about her husband’s death, she immediately locks herself in the house to mourn his death; this presents a strong visual effect to the reader. Finally, “The story of an hour” has been written in simple English and has great diction which means that majority of the readers will understand and enjoy it. The events in the story have been described very well and in very simple and straightforward vocabulary.
Many readers concurs that “The story of an hour” is an amazing fiction story and a quality work of fiction. This particular fictional story appears real because of the way it reflects our society today; as such, readers will be able to relate with the story which will help them to understand our society better; all the more reasons why it should be run in the magazine.
Beam, Piper. Flight from tomorrow: Science fiction stories. Boston: Wildside Press LLC. 2006. Print.
Chopin, Kate. The story of an hour. California: Perfection learning. 2000. Print.
Hood, Davies. Creative Writer, 2009. Web.
The motifs of life and death in the short stories Hills like White Elephants and the Story of an Hour Research Paper
1. The manner, in which a particular author explores the motifs of life and death, never ceases to remain utterly reflective of this author’s unconscious anxieties, in regards to what accounts for the philosophical significance of how the earlier mentioned motifs interrelate.
Therefore, when it comes to comparing/contrasting two works of literature (within the context of how the contained motifs of life and death define the overall message of the literary pieces in question), it is important to pay attention to how these motifs provide an insight into the workings of the concerned authors’ mentality.
In this paper, I will explore the validity of the above-stated at length, while analyzing the psychological implications of how the specified motifs appear to affect the actual sounding of the short story Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and the short story The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin.
2. One of the most notable aspects of how the motif of death reemerges throughout the entirety of Chopin’s story, is the fact that the story’s main character Mrs. Mallard appears to be thoroughly capable of rationalizing the notion in question.
As the narrator pointed out: “She (Mrs. Mallard) did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance” (Chopin 1). This, of course, implies that, despite having been a fragile woman, Mrs. Mallard used to be an utterly brave person, capable of perceiving even the most disturbing challenges of life, as they are.
Partially, this explains why in the story The Story of an Hour, death is being referred to as something that one should not really be thinking about too much. Apparently, in the psychological sense of this word, Mrs. Mallard was more of a ‘rationally thinking man’ (as opposed to being an ‘irrationally feeling woman’), which is why, upon having heard of her husband’s death, she accepted this news in the thoroughly dignified manner.
Given the fact that, throughout the course of her life, Chopin never ceased promoting the cause of feminism, we can suggest that the character of Mrs. Mallard is largely autobiographical. After all, many feminists do make a point in trying to dissociate themselves from the so-called ‘feminine weakness’, the main of which has always been considered women’s tendency to be utterly terrified by the thoughts of death.
The suggestion that there must autobiographical overtones to how a particular author goes about exploring the motif of death can also be illustrated, in regards to Hemingway’s short story. The reason for this is that the manner, in which the character of the American refers to the death-related topics, implies him being endowed with the strongly defined ‘masculine’ mentality.
For example, while trying to convince his girlfriend (Jig) to consider performing an abortion (which results in death of an unborn child), this character deliberately strives to downplay the associated implications: “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,’… ‘It’s not really an operation at all” (Hemingway 2).
This, of course, betrays the American as a rather arrogant male, who tends to treat women in terms of a trophy. Given the author’s reputation of having been a ‘playboy’, there can be only a few doubts that, by exposing the concerned character’s light attitude towards death, Hemingway was projecting his own attitude, in this respect.
What is also peculiar about how Chopin explored the motif of death in her short story, is that the author appears to have been trying to emphasize the absurdist overtones of one’s passing away. The validity of this suggestion can be shown, in regards to the story’s ultimate conclusion: “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease – of joy that kills” (Chopin 3). As this quotation implies, death is something utterly unexpected.
Moreover, death is also something that can be well ridiculed – contrary to some people’s tendency to mystify it. We can well speculate that such a point of view on death correlates perfectly well with the fact that Chopin was known for her somewhat atheistic attitudes in life. After all, atheists are naturally predisposed to demystify death, as the ‘end of all’, rather than the ‘beginning of something different’, which in turn causes them to think that there is indeed nothing meaningful about how a person dies.
The fact that Chopin used to be an intellectually liberated person is also exposed by what account for the particulars of the motif of life, as seen in The Story of an Hour. The rationale behind this suggestion is quite apparent – this motif implies that life must be appreciated as a ‘thing in itself’.
For example, after having realized that, due to the death of her husband, she no longer needed to lead the lifestyle of an obedient housewife, Mrs. Mallard became instantly appreciative of every small joy that life has to offer: “She (Mrs. Mallard) 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…” (Chopin 1). This, of course, implies that, as it was the case with the author, the story’s main character tended to think that there could be no other purpose of life, but the one that enables the concerned individual to enjoy its own existence – just for the sake of doing it. However, an individual can only be in the position of enjoying its life to fullest, for as long as he or she does not need to suffer from being oppressed.
Therefore, there is nothing surprising about the fact that Mrs. Mallard used to think of the notions of ‘life’ and ‘freedom’, as being essentially synonymous: “When she (Mrs. Mallard) abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: ‘free, free, free!’” (Chopin 2). Obviously enough, the story’s main character believed that it is namely a life worthy of living, which deserves to be lived, in the first place.
Essentially the same can be said about the attitude towards life, on the part of the American, reflected by this character’s tendency to avoid addressing life-challenges, as opposed to facing them directly. The allegory of the ‘white elephants’, contained in Hemingway’s story, substantiates the validity of this suggestion: “(Jig) I said the mountains looked like white elephants” (Hemingway 1).
Given the fact that the American disregarded this Jig’s remark, this can be well seen as such that that provides us with an insight into the workings of his psyche. Apparently, the American tended to think that the unfamiliar/strange things are by definition pose a certain danger.
Hence, the overall significance of the motif of life, in The Story of an Hour – in this story, one’s life is being represented as the instrument of experiencing sensual pleasures. In fact, the reason why the American asked Jig to perform an abortion, in the first place, is that Jig’s positive decision, in this respect, would allow both individuals to continue enjoying each other’s company, without having to be burdened with any responsibilities, whatsoever.
Nevertheless, this could only be achieved at the expense of destroying another person’s life – specifically, the life of the couple’s unborn child. Thus, it will be thoroughly appropriate to suggest that there are many Darwinian overtones to how the motif of life is being explored in Hemingway’s short story. After all, this motif clearly implies that, in order to be able to sustain itself, life must devour another life.
3. I believe that the earlier provided line of argumentation, regarding the significance of the motifs of life and death in both of the discussed short stories by Ernest Hemingway and Kate Chopin, is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis.
Apparently, these motifs do not only play a significant role, within the context of emphasizing the philosophical value of both literary works, but they also reflect what used to account for the main psychological predispositions, on the part of Hemingway and Chopin. Therefore, while exposed to these motifs, readers should be able to gain a better understanding of both of the mentioned authors, as individuals.
Chopin, Kate 1894, The Story of an Hour. PDF file. 28 Feb. <https://my.hrw.com/support/hos/hostpdf/host_text_219.pdf>
Hemingway, Ernest 1927, Hills Like White Elephants. PDF file. Web.
Trifles by Susan Glaspell and The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin’s Research Paper
This paper will be aimed at discussing such literary works as the play Trifles written Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin’s short story The Story of an Hour. In particular, it is necessary to examine the views on marriage expressed by these authors. Much attention should be paid to the similarities and differences in the themes that these writers focus on.
Overall, this topic has been chosen because it plays an important role for these feminist writers who want to highlight the problems that could be faced by women living in patriarchic societies. So, this question is helpful for studying various works of Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin.
Furthermore, this topic is important for understanding the problems that feminist movement tried to address at the beginning of the twentieth century. This is why I have decided to focus on this particular topic in this essay.
My major argument will be based primarily on the analysis of the main characters’ behavior, especially their reactions to different challenges. In particular, I will focus on the way in which these women perceive their marriage. On the whole, I will argue that Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin demonstrate that marriage can turn some form of oppression because it deprives them of their independence or dignity.
This is the main similarity that can be identified. However, Minnie decides to use force in order to end the humiliation to which she is subjected to. In contrast, Mrs. Mallard does not want to acknowledge that her marriage is unhappy.
Moreover, she is extremely ashamed of her willingness to leave her husband. In other words, these characters do not have the same attitudes toward the social norms and expectations that are set for women. This is the thesis that I will discuss in greater detail.
The attitudes toward family and gender roles have been described in various literary works that could have been created during different periods. These questions are explored by such authors Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin.
Such works as Trifles and The Story of an Hour can be regarded as eloquent examples of feminist literature since they can throw light on the peculiarities of a patriarchal society in which women are not allowed to be autonomous and self-sufficient.
This is one of the main themes that can be singled out. Overall, one can say that these writers describe the experiences of women who are strongly dissatisfied with their marriage because they crave for personal dignity and independence that are denied to them.
These are the things that Mrs. Mallard and Minnie lack. However, these characters respond to these hardships in different ways. In particular, Minnie kills her husband because; to a great extent, it is her response to his continuous abuse. In contrast, Mrs. Mallard is not ready to acknowledge that she is glad to live without her husband. She does not want to say that marriage can turn into a disaster for a person.
Therefore, the characters described by Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin respond to social injustice in different ways. These are the main questions that should be examined closely. On the whole, this discussion can show that marriage is described as the union in which the rights of both partners are not always equal.
First of all, Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin throw light on the life of families in which women are forced to play certain gender roles that are imposed on them. In particular, these women are deprived of their freedom and dignity. This point can be illustrated with the help of several examples. For instance, one can look at the way in which Mrs. Mallard responds to the news about her husband’s death.
Kate Chopin describes her reaction in the following way, ‘When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under the breath: “free, free, free!’ (Chopin 53). This quote is important for showing that Mrs.
Mallard does not view her marriage as something valuable (Chopin 53). This is one of the aspects that can be singled out. It is possible to say that marriage is not satisfying for the main character of Susan Glaspell’s play. The author does not directly describe her experiences. However, the writer provides several eloquent details.
For example, the visitors can find the body of the dead canary that was killed by Minnie’s husband (Glaspell 44). However, male investigators of the murder dismiss this evidence by arguing that “women are used to worrying about trifles” (Glaspell 38). This quote is important for showing that Minnie’s inner world is completely overlooked by men.
To a great extent, the husband’s cruelty is one of the factors that prompted her to kill him. Yet, this idea does not even occur to the police officers. Overall, family life is practically unbearable for each of these characters. This is one of the details that can be singled out.
Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin show that marriage produced a devastating effect on the inner world of these characters. Much attention should be paid to such a theme as lack of personal fulfillment which is critical for every individual. Both characters suffer because their personal needs are continuously disregarded.
However, there are important distinctions that should be considered. First of all, Mrs. Mallard is unable to acknowledge that she wants to “live for herself” (Chopin 53). In her opinion, such a desire is “monstrous” (Chopin 53). The protagonist does not admit that she does not want to grieve for her husband’s death (Chopin 53). She believes that her inability to feel the sense of loss will be condemned by other people.
This character suffers a heart attack when she finds out her husband has not died. This is one of the aspects that can be distinguished. In contrast, Minnie is able to live without her husband. She is ready to defy the social traditions according to which women are obliged to accept the rules set by males. One can say that Mrs. Mallard is afraid of stating that she wants to end her marriage.
This is one of the distinctions that can be identified since it is important for describing the differences between these literary works. It should be borne in mind that these texts were written during different periods, and they can show how women’s values evolved. They became more willing to challenge the authority of males.
Thus, Minnie deviates from the established social tradition. Certainly, it is difficult to find an ethical justification for murder or any other forms of violence. However, this behavior is a response to suffering and injustice. This is one of the points that can be made.
Certainly, it is possible to raise some objections to the arguments that have been placed in the paper. For instance, one can mention that both authors do not speak about the relations between the main characters and their spouses. These issues are not explicitly described by the writers.
In particular, the readers do not know much about the behavior of Brently Mallard whose personality is not examined by Kate Chopin. Additionally, this author does not speak about the way in which he treats his wife. This is one of the flaws that should be considered. Furthermore, Susan Glaspell does not pay much attention to the relations between Minnie and her husband John Wright.
Moreover, the author does not explicitly tell that the main character killed her spouse. This is only the assumption that cannot be fully verified. These are some of the limitations that should be considered. Yet, one can respond to these objections. For instance, it is necessary to keep in mind that as a reporter Susan Glaspell often wrote about women who were accused of murders (Ben-Zwi 141).
Moreover, in many cases, these women were victims of abuse or humiliation (Ben-Zwi 142). This story is partly based on the life of Margaret Hossack who murdered her husband because of his abuse. Therefore, one can argue that Minnie could be humiliated or abused by her husband.
Moreover, it is important to remember that Kate Chopin’s short story is also based on the real-life events (Toth 10). In particular, she wrote about women who were compelled to marry (Toth 10). Apart from that, she had to end the short story with the death of the main character, otherwise this literary work might not have been published (Toth 10; Berkove 152).
These examples indicate that at the end of the nineteenth century, women were not supposed to be independent from males. Therefore, it is quite possible to identify the connections between the feminist movement and the literary works of Kate Chopin and Susan Glaspell who want to throw light on the difficulties faced by women.
On the whole, this discussion suggests that these short stories present a critique of marriage. In both cases, the writers show that women could be dissatisfied with this form of union. Minnie and Mrs. Mallard are not willing to reject their freedom and sense of dignity. However, they are forced to do it. To a great extent, this situation can be described by the social norms that existed during the nineteenth century.
So, this is the main internal conflict that they struggle to resolve. Yet, they react to these hardships in different ways. In particular, Minnie kills her husband because in this way she attempts to retain her dignity. In contrast, Mrs. Mallard cannot openly state that she cannot live with her spouse.
This is why this character is speechless when she sees her husband. Overall, the main theme is the lack of personal fulfillment and autonomy that these women lack. However, Susan Glaspell focuses on the idea of protest against the existing social hierarchy while Kate Chopin focuses on the social norms that are aimed at subduing women. These are the main arguments that can be put forward.
Ben-Zwi, Linda. “Murder, She Wrote”: The Genesis of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Theatre Journal 44.2 (1992): 141-162. Print.
Berkove, Lawrence. “Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour.” American Literary Literalism 32.2 (2000): 152-158. Print.
Chopin, Kate. A Pair of Silk Stockings. New York: Courier Dover Publications, 2012. Print.
Glaspell, Susan. Plays by Susan Glaspell. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Print.
Toth, Emily. Unveiling Kate Chopin. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi,1999. Print.
The Story of an Hour Essay
“The story of an hour” is a literary fiction written by Kate Chopin. Kate Chopin (1850-1904) was well known American writer of short stories. She is best known for her recurrent theme on the status of women in societal affairs, the challenges and problems facing them as well as repression and gender bias.
“The story of an hour” is rhetorically hour’s recount of the marriage life of Mrs. Louise Mallard. The text describes the final hour of her life spent dreaming about how she would become totally free from marital repression she has been experiencing under her domineering husband Mr. Brently Mallard. Mallard’s only way to acquire this freedom is through the misleading message told her that her oppressor (husband) is dead.
She will now live freely and fulfill her feminine ambitions joyfully through the remaining part of her life. However, this ends up becoming tragic to her in a sudden anti climax when she unfortunately looses her own life instead of celebrating the freedom that comes with widowhood because her husband was still alive after all.
The story is an example of literary fiction, since it economical in structure with few characters. Characters are few in this text with the main character being Mrs. Louise Mallard who is a very attractive young woman and grieves the apparent death of her husband but inwardly celebrates the freedom that she will enjoy in the days to come after his departure; and her husband Mr. Brently Mallard who is portrayed as being overbearing and repressive to his wife; other characters include Josephine who is a friend to Mrs. Mallard, Richards a friend to Mr. Mallard and the Doctors who give a wrong diagnosis of the death of Mrs. Mallard later in the end. Josephine and Richards are the ones who help break the news that Mr. Mallard is dead.
Chopin adopts a summative approach in that events unfold in one place (the Mallard’s house); everything happens within a span of less than one day at a specific location with absolutely no sub plots to develop the story further.
The author adopts a nineteenth century setting in America and recounts the events in the Mallards household within a span of one hour. Thematically, the story explores the status of a typical American woman in the nineteenth century where aspects such as female repression and male dominance were rife.
Within the nineteenth century setting in America, society was biased against women and the girl child. The place of a typical woman was expected to be the kitchen where she was entitled to take care of the entire household, bear children for the man and take care of them to maturity.
During this period, women had no rights to vote and participate in the nation’s democratic processes, employment opportunities were skewed against them to an extent that it was not easy for them to access paid jobs and even if they managed to get such jobs, they could only be hired for a pittance to earn much less than their male counterparts for similar work. Hence, Mr. Mallard being a typical husband in the 19th century clearly dominates his wife.
In conclusion it is evident that in the 19th century women never had freedom; they were never granted an opportunity to accomplish what they wanted because societal values were skewed and sexist. Domestic roles are what they were identified with and what consumed their entire life on earth. Freedom was never forthcoming as is revealed in the ironic fate of Mrs. Mallard who looses her own life trying to secure a better one. This was the fate of the female gender during this time.
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin Essay
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin is the example of the human understanding of several hidden desires and the hidden character during one hour. It should be mentioned that the story is the discussion of the reaction to the event and the characteristics of one hour in the life of Louise Mallard.
The story is too short to point at several serous problems, however, it depicts the main idea of human essence, desires and the loss of those desires.
Louise Mallard is a person who being informed about the death of her husband was in grief but several minutes later she understood that the death of this person raised the feelings of joy and freedom in her, while several hours later she died of a heart attack because she has already created a reality in her mind without a husband, she understood how great she felt free and all her dreams were ruined when it appeared that she was mistaken.
The news that Louise Mallard’s husband was dead frustrated her. She could not think about anything but the death of a person who she loved, “When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone” (Chopin n.p.). It characterizes Louise Mallard as a person who understands her place in the society.
Moreover, it shows Louise Mallard as a woman who praises and honors the rules and traditions and who is ready to follow the basic laws of life. However, this feeling lasted for several minutes until she understood that she appeared to be “Free! Body and soul free!” (Chopin n.p.). It seems that having got the greatest joy a person was put before the reality, the reality which she could not overcome.
Some people may say that the expression of the joy because of the death of the husband characterizes Louise Mallard as a cruel and heartless, still this is not true. The unexpected change of the moos shows that this woman was too devoted to the person who restricted her in everything, who made her to be afraid of him. This shows the woman as aweak personality.
That is why she was too frustrated at first and only then when she understood that there is nothing to be afraid of, that he can freely express her feeling she became brave and expressed her real feelings.
However, she still was weak, that is why she failed to accept the news that her husband was alive. This good news for everyone made her suffer as she understood in a send that she would never live in the world she had already created in her mind.
Therefore, it should be concluded that people are able to feel something just because they are to feel it, because the society has intruded them to feel it. Louise Mallard could not accept the death of her husband as the society is sure that people are to be sorry for the death of their couples. However, when Louise Mallard understood what relief the death of this person brought to her she felt nothing but joy.
This is exactly the reason why she died, her dreams were ruined. Being a weak person, Louise Mallard suffered greatly and could not show it. She was not brave enough to accept the fact that she had either lead a life she had done before or to find the power and leave. Louise Mallard preferred to do nothing as her heart could not accept the fact that all her dreams were ruined.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. 1894. Web. https://archive.vcu.edu/english/engweb/webtexts/hour/
Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour Essay
Feminism is a prevalent phenomenon nowadays that affects numerous life spheres. In addition to that, it is a central concept of various literary works. As a rule, many famous feminist stories, novels, and plays were written in the mid-late 20th century when there happened the most crucial changes to women’s rights. However, there are some exceptions, and Chopin’s The Story of an Hour that was created in 1894 is among them. Even though it is a short story with not many characters, it manages to discuss essential topics in a way to make readers think through them critically.
The story tells about Mrs. Mallard, who has some heart issues. Because of this, everyone tries to be as careful as possible not to disturb the woman. Once her husband is said to be dead, Josephine, Mrs. Mallard’s sister, comes to inform her of this tragic news. Even though Josephine tries to find as gentle words as possible, Mrs. Mallard is still shocked and frustrated. A newly-minted widow locks herself in her room to stay alone with her grief (Chopin, 2014). Inside, her first thoughts are that it is impossible to live further without her husband. They loved each other, and the loss is considered an end of everything for the woman. However, it takes a while for the grief to be replaced by freedom. One should note that it does not mean that Mrs. Mallard did not love her husband; the point is that Mr. Mallard’s death makes her free and open to the future. These thoughts in mind, the woman leaves her room and meets her alive husband. This event happens to be immensely shocking for Mrs. Mallard, and she dies.
Even though the given story is based on a simple plot, and it has not many characters, this piece of literature is worth noticing. Chopin managed to discuss crucial topics and show that everything can change in life in a matter of an hour. This thought is said to be a central one for the story, and it is represented in the title. Furthermore, the author refers to other issues that are revealed with the help of several characters.
The Story of an Hour conveys many vital topics that are understandable even for modern readers. The theme of mortality is said to be the most evident one discussed in this literary work. The author demonstrates that everyone is mortal and that the death of close people can occur unexpectedly. One can be surprised, but communication has a similar implication in this story. The case is that wrongly chosen words can be dangerous or even kill someone. That is why Josephine does her best to find those communicative means that would be less harmful to Mrs. Mallard. From this perspective, the author tells that words can sometimes damage more seriously than physical actions. Besides, Chopin attracts readers’ attention to curative properties of time. Once shocked by her husband’s death, it takes only an hour for Mrs. Mallard to change her mood dramatically. Thus, the topics above make this literary work exciting for numerous people.
In addition to that, it is impossible to ignore the fact that The Story of an Hour reflects feminist beliefs. On the one hand, Paudel (2019) argues that this piece of writing demonstrates “women’s anxieties and struggles for self-identity within the arena of strict social and traditional structures” (p. 97). Her husband overshadowed Mrs. Mallard, and his death makes her free. At once, this freedom scares her, but the fear is soon replaced by happiness. On the other hand, the author presented the thought that the women’s role was underscored in society, often by women themselves. That is why Chopin wanted to show that women could live without men, which was one of the first signals of feminism (Latif Azmi & Hui, 2017). Thus, Mrs. Mallard’s example was believed to show that the world was not fair to women. They could be full-fledged members of society, even outside men’s shadows.
As has been stated, Mrs. Mallard is the main protagonist of the story. She is the usual woman who lives an ordinary life. Her heart condition stands for the role of all women in society. According to the author, this character demonstrates that women were very delicate and could not withstand any difficulties. Another of her peculiarities is represented by the feelings she had to Mr. Mallard. She loved him, but it was love that disappeared in an hour. Thus, this situation demonstrates one of the main negative features of the man-dominated world in which women are forced to live with men because it is necessary, rather than because they love them.
As for the other characters, Josephine and Mr. Mallard, it is impossible to tell much about them. Josephine appears to be a skillful negotiator because she manages to find some words that would not kill her sister. Besides, the woman takes care of her grieving sister, and it can be a message for all women that they should be concerned about one another. As for Mr. Mallard, he is a reason for the actions to revolve, but he appears in person only at the end of the story. The readers are not told what his profession is or where he was. It seems that he is even more depersonalized than the others. The author might describe this character in this way to show that men who were considered the center of the world were not more important than women.
As far as my personal opinion is concerned, this literary work evokes controversial thoughts. On the one hand, it defies the imagination that a mentally sane woman can be happy when her husband dies. On the other hand, the central message becomes apparent when the story is analyzed through the lens of feminism. That is why it is impossible to tell unequivocally what impressions this piece of literature causes. This thought is supported by Appleman (2015), who states that The Story of an Hour has “a set of somewhat more elaborate” elements (p. 132). Thus, there are no doubts that numerous readers will be excited by Chopin’s writing.
The Story of an Hour by Chopin is a short literary work that manages to refer to many essential topics, though. The author discussed such themes as love, feminism, the role of communication, and mortality. One should note that not many characters were used in this story. The information above allows supposing that the literary work tends to evoke controversial feelings and emotions among its target audience. Thus, there is no doubt that this piece of writing is worth reading.
Appleman, D. (2015). Critical encounters in secondary English: Teaching literary theory to adolescents (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Chopin, K. (2014). The story of an hour: Short story. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
Latif Azmi, M. N., & Hui, L. S. (2017). The elements of Islamic feminism in non-Islamic comparative literature: A case of Chopin and Megha’s short stories. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 7(12), 1095-1099.
Paudel, K. (2019). Existential angst in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour, NCC Journal, 4(1), 97-99.
“The Story of an Hour” and “The Birthmark” Essay
Constructing fictional worlds for characters, authors reflect particular moral, ethical, and social rules of proper behavior in the world. Hence, the heroes are expected to follow these rules. However, when some characters violate the expectations, the complication of the plot follows.
Depending on the narrator’s reflections on the norms of the world, some characters are “punished” for their transgression of ethical, moral, and social norms, some are not.
The “punishment” of the character, however, does not necessarily testify to the narrator’s support of the expected behavior standards pointing out a conflict between the author and the society in regards to ethical, moral, and social values. Comparison of The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne reveals the difference in the narrative’s attitude to the moral order in their fictional world.
When Hawthorne describes his fictional world The Birthmark, he refers to “comparatively recent discovery of electricity and other kindred mysteries of Nature” (12). Besides, he chooses “a man of science” Aylmer who is an “eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy” as the main character (Hawthorne 12).
Scientific findings are highly approved and encouraged in the society of that time. However, it is believed that “our great creative Mother, while she amuses us with apparently working in the broadest sunshine, is yet severely careful to keep her own secrets, and, in spite of her pretended openness, shows us nothing but results” (Hawthorne 18).
Hence, the question is posed whether a human should only perceive natural laws, explain them, experiment with them or create as well. Hawthorn believes that Nature “permits us indeed to mar, but seldom to mend, and, like a jealous patentee, on no account to make” (18). It is not a question of capability or knowledge; it is an ethical dilemma.
Besides, moral and social standards of the society disapprove sacrifice of a human to deeper comprehend Nature. Only after his dream Aylmer recognizes “the tyrannizing influence acquired by one idea over his mind, and of the lengths which he might find in his heart to go, for the sake of giving himself peace” (Hawthorne 16).
The birthmark on Georgiana’s cheek represents “fatal flaw of humanity”, and the author poses the question whether Nature created a human as mortal and imperfect or “perfection must be wrought by toil and pain” (Hawthorne 14). Consequently, the moral, social, and ethical dilemma presents a choice: to accept and admire the imperfection of a human or to fight against it at any cost.
Aylmer cannot consent to the human’s imperfection or Nature’s superiority, so he chooses to fight. At first, Georgiana doubts, she thinks it is possible that “the stain goes as deep as life itself” and asks Aylmer, “do we know that there is a possibility, on any terms, of unclasping the firm gripe of this little Hand” (Hawthorne 16). Aylmer, on contrary, is confident in his power reassuring his wife that he is capable “to create a being” (Hawthorne 16). Georgiana is ready to sacrifice herself to satisfy Aylmer’s urge for perfection and submission of Nature.
However, Aylmer is aware of moral, ethical, and social standards of the world. Speaking of power to make “elixir vitae” that can “prolong life”, he reflects on the causes of such experiment, “it would produce a discord in nature” (Hawthorne 21).Georgiana’s reaction reveals a deeper moral, ethical, and social dilemma, though.
She exclaims, “It is terrible to possess such power, or even to dream of possessing it!” (Hawthorne 21) Consequently, Aylmer consciously violates the moral order of the world. Moreover, he realizes and fears his possible defeat explaining to Georgiana that her birthmark is “superficial… With a strength of which I had no previous conception” (Hawthorne 26). Despite all the dangerous consequences, he decides to use the last thing possible.
Eventually, Aylmer managed to defeat his wife’s imperfection. However, when Georgiana wakes up and understands that the birthmark is gone, she feels sorry for Aylmer. She calls him “poor”, but Aylmer minds, “Poor? Nay, richest! Happiest! Most favored!” (Hawthorne 31).
Georgiana dies after saying, “You have aimed loftily!—you have done nobly! Do not repent, that, with so high and pure a feeling, you have rejected the best the earth could offer” (Hawthorne 31). Georgiana’s death was the “punishment” for Aylmer’s consciously transgression of the moral order of the world.
Last passage of the story reveals Hawthorne’s acceptance of moral, social and ethical standards in the world of the text. He speaks of Aylmer ruining “mystery of life”, “the bond by which an angelic spirit kept itself in union with a mortal frame” (Hawthorne 31). Happiness for Hawthorne is the ability to “find the perfect Future in the present” (31). Loneliness and misery are the punishment for failing to recognize it and trying to overmaster Nature at any cost.
Comparison of Hawthorne’s and Chopin’s texts reveals the distinction in their perception and acceptance of the moral order in the world. Moreover, the authors depict marriage and a woman’s role in the society in different way. Hawthorne’s Georgiana fully trusts her husband, loves him and sacrifices herself for his needs. Chopin’s Mrs. Mallard in The Story of an Hour is an entirely different character.
When Kate Chopin describes Louise’s reaction to a loss of her husband, she says, “she did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance” (352). According to the social standards, a married woman’s role in the society lies in serving her family, namely her husband. A loss of a man should paralyze a woman, as she should not even comprehend what life can be without her husband.
However, Chopin describes an inner struggle going on in Louise’s soul. On one hand, Louise experiences a feeling “that was approaching to possess her” but she struggles with it and does not dare to accept or name it (Chopin, 353). Eventually, though, she is “powerless” to fight with that feeling, “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, 353). Louise’s transgression of moral, ethical, and social rules of the society frightens herself.
The possible explanation of such behavior lies in the fact that Louise did not love her husband. She reflects on her husband, “and yet she had loved him—sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter!” (Chopin 353). Her reflection represents another rule in the society: marriage is a social need, not an emotional one.
Thus, Louise disowns her emotions, she “did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her” but soon she fails to resist her delight (Chopin 353). Furthermore, Louise’s reflections represent the expected social behavior for married couples in the society.
She realizes that “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” (Chopin, 353).
Freedom of “body and soul” inspires Louise, “she breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 354). Hence, Louise violates the moral order of the society when feeling happy because she does not need to surrender her personality, her private wants and urges any more.
Louise’s “punishment” is her husband’s safe return home. She dies immediately after seeing her husband, “when the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of joy that kills” (Chopin 354). Therefore, Louise experiences the ultimate “punishment”, death.
However, the irony in the description of the “punishment” reveals Chopin’s commentary on the moral order of the society. Not the “joy” killed Louise but the failure of her expectations that transgressed moral, ethical, and social norms of the society. Therefore, Chopin does not accept the supremacy of the moral standards and social institution of marriage that suppresses personality.
Consequently, an analysis of the fictional worlds, its behavior standards, and the way the characters are “punished” for transgressing the moral order reveals the narrator’s reflections on the ethical, moral, and social values of the society.
Chopin, Kate. Southern Literary Studies: Complete Works of Kate Chopin. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1969. ProQuest ebrary.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Mosses from an Old Manse. London, UK: ElecBook, 2001. ProQuest ebrary.