Two Deaths, One Corpse

The Story of an Hour

William Faulkner's character Miss Emily and Kate Chopin's Mrs. Mallard are great examples of what it was like for women living in an oppressed society where men defined who they were. As is suggested by the title, "The Story of an Hour" takes place within an hour. This house is pivotal to the central character, Mrs. Mallard, who learns of her husband's supposed death in a freak accident, has a personal awakening, and then dies of "the joy that kills." "A Rose for Emily" takes place over a long period of time, jumping from the past to the present and back again. One could say that both of these stories are ghost stories. Miss Emily's death haunts the townspeople as they remember her life; and Mrs. Mallard is herself haunted by her husband and her desire to be free. Both women suffer a fatal ending, and through their experiences the reader is able to see how these two women yearned to be free.

Both of these stories begin with death. In "A Rose For Emily" the very first line reads, "When Miss Emily died," thus establishing the tone of horror throughout the entire story. In "The Story of an Hour," the reader is told about Mr. Mallard's death in the first sentence, "Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death." Both of these stories also end in death, though, it could be argued that death is seen throughout Faulkner's entire story because of the non-linear structure. The same could also be argued for Chopin's story because the memory of Mrs. Mallard's dead husband is haunting her throughout constantly. These initial deaths set the tone for the rest of the story. In "A Rose For Emily" it is the townspeople who let the reader know that Miss Emily has died, but then go on to tell us the events of her life, remembering what made her such a novelty. And she was a novelty because she wasn't your typical southern bell. She never wed, and that was something all 19th...
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