The Characterization of the Female Protagonists in the Short Stories Thank You Ma’am by Langston Hughes and Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

How the Female Protagonist is portrayed

Through the short stories “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes and “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the authors employ many exceptional techniques to characterize both leading female protagonists. In “Thank You Ma’am” Langston recounts Ms. Louella Bates Washington Jones with primarily indirect characterization as opposed to Chopin, whom characterizes predominantly with direct characterization. Inclusively, Hughes illustrates Ms. Jones as a strong-willed, unsympathetic, individualistic woman. Nonetheless, through all of these particular qualities, she remains understanding. Mrs. Mallard, however gets highlighted as disoriented, feeble-minded, and the unmitigated opposite of emotionally well-balanced. From the many techniques the authors portray the above stated female protagonists through facets of characterization, this makes apparent that both characters are highlighted to be emotionally restrained, centralized on independence, and disoriented.

The author elucidates how Ms. Jones “…simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter,” then later Ms. Jones explains “I were young once, and I wanted things I could not get”; making these transitions in tone construct the image of Louella to be unsympathetic, nevertheless understanding. Because these two qualities are substantially contradicting, the author characterizes Louella as disoriented. Although a person may withhold the qualities of unsympathetic and understanding, they are entirely opposing characteristics by definition.

In this same way, Chopin states “Mrs. Mallard wept at once with sudden, paralyzed inability to accept its significance,” pertaining to her husband’s death, then later describes how she suddenly was enlightened that she was “free, free, free!” Although some may contest these two characters to be static, these examples prove that the characters are, in fact, dynamic characters. Louella’s change of heart in terms of her perception of Roger and Mrs. Mallard’s revelation of her newfound independence are plot twists that point to the character’s disoriented mental and/or emotional state and their qualifications to be round dynamic characters.

Ms. Louella’s wholehearted breakdown to Roger of her past and Mrs. Mallard’s sudden emotional breakdown contrived from her discovering her untouched independence highlight the two character’s qualities of being emotionally restrained. Hughes and Chopin both create this sudden burst of emotional release; this situational irony is to be caused by the character’s preceding bottling of their emotions.

The two female characters show how they centralize on independence as Ms. Louella remains withheld throughout the scene where Roger pursues stealing her purse, and Mrs. Mallard finds her independence and is traumatized. Ms. Jones’ handling of this situation on her own, without attempting to call for help (which would be most women’s reactions in this situation) proves her independence and her strong-will to remain independent.

Through these dimensions of characterization, the authors have highlighted the two female protagonists as perplexed, round, dynamic, centralized on independence, and emotionally reticent. Although the two different authors portray their particular female protagonist with two different types of characterization, the characters still employ similar qualities.

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