March 1, 2013
Triple Threat Criticism
Each of the short stories “Happy Endings”, “A Sorrowful Woman”, and “The Story of an Hour” express the central idea that women are confined and identified by their roles as wives or mothers by society. The authors’ goal of these short stories is to portray modern marriages, to help people be conscious to women's liberalism, and to instruct people not to focus on the endings of stories, but the middle portions. Margaret Atwood, Gail Godwin, and Kate Chopin develop these ideas by utilizing plot, character development, and setting. Atwood’s “Happy Endings” uses a lack of plot to show how even though the middle parts of life can be different, the endings are always and inevitably the same. In her story, Atwood shows the diverse relationships between men and women, but through every situation, both die. The same thing happens in Chopin’s and Godwin’s stories. While both protagonists start off as committed and loving women dedicated to their family, personal torment eventually lead both of them to death. Both women sit near windows in their rooms and watch the world outside wishing they could be at peace with themselves and find happiness in their relationships. Chopin associates the window and all the lively things outside the window to the freedom of Mrs. Mallard’s new widow status, while Godwin represents the window as a negative object. Also, it is ironic that outside of the windows it is spring, when both of the stories are depressingly gloomy. In “Happy Endings,” Atwood explains what life is about. She proclaims that plots are a beginning, middle, and an end; “a what and a what and a what” (Atwood 628). Life is a formula: two people meet; they have jobs, sex, kids, hobbies, illness, and of course, they die. Atwood gives all the examples: older and younger, doctor and nurse, but it is the same formula. Atwood also minimally structures “Happy Endings,” like an essay, instead of a story. She has...