Compare and Contrast Protagonists from "The Way Up to Heaven" and "The Story of an Hour"

Topics: Protagonist, Antagonist, Marriage Pages: 4 (1411 words) Published: October 30, 2008
Many intriguing characters in literature are devised from the apprehension women have encountered with men in the institution of marriage. Although portrayed differently, marriage is perceived as a constraint to the protagonists. This has been presented very well in “The Way Up To Heaven” penned by Roald Dahl who blatantly critiques the accepted societal roles of women in the mid-twentieth century and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin who highlights a woman’s plight in the 19th century. This is not only painted through the events of the stories, but also through the way each protagonist evolves into a dynamic character. The two main characters in these stories show many similarities, but they are also remarkably different in the ways they deal with their problem to gain independence. One vague yet important point that can be noted in the opening paragraphs is that both women are portrayed as frail. The main character in ‘The Way Up To Heaven’ is a housewife, Mrs. Foster who has “an almost pathological fear of missing a train, a plane, a boat, or even a theatre curtain.” (p.1). Dahl sets up the story by introducing Mrs. Foster and her nervous disposition and then begins the next paragraph by saying, “It is really extraordinary how in certain people a simple apprehension about a thing like catching a train can grow into a serious obsession.” (p. 1). Comparatively, in ‘The Story of an Hour’, Kate Chopin reveals a complex character that changes from “a woman afflicted with heart trouble” (p. 1) to ‘a goddess of Victory” (p. 3). The opening sentence of the story foreshadows the ending by hinting that Mrs. Mallard’s heart condition will affect the plot of the story. As the stories unfold, I discovered that Mrs. Foster’s “fear of being late” (p. 1) and Mrs. Mallard’s “heart trouble” (p. 1) may have resulted from their reaction to their inferior status in a male-chauvinistic culture. As the protagonist of the story, Mrs. Foster is mentioned many times. However,...
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