Kate Chopin and Washington Irving

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By the time she was writing essays, Kate Chopin was not read nor recognized as a major American literature author. Wrote in 1894, the short novel entitled “The Story of an Hour” was not very successful, and it has not spread out of the area of Louisiana. Although the importance of Kate Chopin in our world does not have to be proved thanks to feminist movements, her literary qualities were overlooked at that time. On the opposite, Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” wrote in 1819, has become a best-seller book that has quickly matched a large audience on the entire eastern coast, but also in Great Britain and Deutschland. The main character that Irving has invented for the story, Rip Van Winkle, has become very famous since, and it has inspired numerous artistic works such as movies, theatre plays, operas and TV shows. At first, those two authors and principally the two novels does not seem to have many similarities, but I have found several themes that they both share, and that I found interesting for my process of understanding American History and Culture. The first interesting point to emphasize when linking the two readings was the description of marriage in the society. In the two essays, the image of marriage that we can feel through the main characters is the sensation of oppression created by the union. Rip Van Winkle and Mrs Louise Mallard both describe their marital relationship as living prisons. Even if it is more accentuated in The Story of an Hour, Irving’s main character’s union does not seem better. Actually, even if the story is not about marriage, there are some precise quotations that describe the relationship between Rip Van Winkle and his wife. “It is a common wish of all henpecked husbands in the neighbourhood, when life hangs heavy on their hands that they might have a quieting draught out of Rip Van Winkle’s flagon». “A termagant wife may therefore, in some respect, be considered a tolerable blessing; and if so, Rip Van Winkle was...
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