Theme Comparison: The Necklace & The Story of an Hour
A short story, “The Necklace” (“La parure”) by Guy de Maupassant in 1884 and a poem, ‘The Story of an Hour” written by Kate Chopin in 1894 are literary works that are very comparable yet are different. The two women, Madame Mathilde Loisel and Louise Mallard, portrayed in these literary works are protagonists who have trouble because of conflicting expectations imposed on them by society. Both Mathilde Loisel and Louise Mallard want something more than what their lifestyle offers them. During the time when the authors wrote these pieces, the social behaviors showed gender suppression/oppression. This essay will compare and contrast elements of content, form, and style between two different literary works. Both authors chose the theme of gender roles in marriage. During the time when the authors wrote theses pieces, the social behaviors showed gender suppression/oppression. The nineteenth century was impacted by the industrial revolution which caused a gap in gender roles, especially in the upper and middle classes (Radek, 2001). Men and women were thought to have completely different natures. Men were considered to be powerful, brave, rational and independent. Women were considered weak, timid, emotional, and dependent. Those differences separated their functions in society. "Men were thought to have natures suited to the public world, women to the private" (Radek, 2001). Independence for women in the nineteenth century was a forbidden pleasure. These feelings led women to fell repressed in their everyday life. Men controlled the marriage; until a woman got control of her own body, she could not enjoy true freedom or physical and mental health (Rosenberg, 1973). It was in the nineteenth century that gender-consciousness and female repression first came to the forefront of the literary imagination. “Gender-consciousness and reform in the nineteenth century became increasingly at odds with social reality” (Bomarito & Hunter, 2005). Through short stories and poems, nineteenth century women were often portrayed with conflicting expectations imposed on them by society. Women, along with some men, expressed sentiments of countless women who were unable to speak. They brought attention and support to their concerns. Analyses focused on the methods used by women to advance their cause while maintaining their delicate balance of propriety and feminine appeal. Guy de Mauspassant and Kate Chopin clearly expressed these concerns in their literary works, “The Necklace” and “The Story of an Hour”. Gender roles in marriage represented in “The Necklace” and “The Story of an Hour” reveal many aspects of suppression/oppression. These stories show how men played a dominant role in their marriage and the women were the weaker ones. Not only did women not have the same rights as men, they were expected to stay home, do all the housework, and take good care of their families. Women were not encouraged to earn their own money or have bank accounts. Women in the nineteenth century were considered to be half humans not worthy of human rights. The women in these two literary works dream of fantasies because of their unstable marriages. “The Necklace” clearly represents the desire of a repressed woman who wants to have a better life and be accepted by society. Mathilde Loisel believes that fate made a careless mistake and she was accidentally born to a family of artisans. Mathilde Loisel is forced to marry a man who is a clerk in the Ministry of Education because her family has no wealth. Mathilde Loisel feels that she is trapped with no free will because of the fate and misfortune of her marriage. She keeps fantasizing of the society that oppresses her. Mathilde Loisel dreamed of better things than being a menial middle-class woman. “She has no dresses, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing else; she felt herself made for that only. She would so much have liked to please, to be...
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