English Comp II 1302-1005
February 28, 2013
“The Story of an Hour” as a Feminist Text
The narrator introduces Louise Mallard as a wife with some type of heart problem. Her sister Josephine and Richards take great care when telling her that her husband has died in a train accident. Despite the sad news she receives, she is unable to contain her feelings of liberation and is elated with thoughts of a long life free of her spouse. Unfortunately for Mrs. Mallard, her husband soon reappears and all of her hopes are brought to a sudden end, literally killing her. Kate Chopin may not have considered herself a feminist writer, but her shorty story has created an expression of the oppression and desire for independence felt by many women in the time period it was written. In the late nineteenth-century, women were taught “never question her husband’s authority…even if he is an adulterer, a drunkard, or an idiot” (Warren, 10). They did not have the luxury of a will of their own aside from their spouse’s. They, for the most part, were expected to do only activities such as cook, clean and have babies, and “their legal rights were restricted” (Warren, 9) in the court system. Although Brently “had never looked save with love upon her” (Chopin, 206), he disregarded Louise’s happiness because the “lines [of her face] bespoke repression” (Chopin, 206). Mrs. Mallard’s lack of identity throughout the story signifies the way women in this era were treated as fragile and “powerless” (Chopin, 206) creatures. The narrator observes how she cries like “a child” (Chopin, 206), and even the other character’s actions in the story revolve around Mrs. Mallard’s preservation. She was known only as a wife, an extension of Brently Mallard. It was not until he was presumed dead that the narrator addresses her directly in the text as “Louise” (Chopin, 206) because she was, by this point, considered “free” (Chopin, 206). The lack of children in the story may also indicate...
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