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The Emancipation of Mrs. Mallard

By Myjoi Jun 21, 2005 669 Words
In "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, the author depicts how someone can be trapped in an unproductive and unsatisfying reality because of other's thoughtlessness, exploitation, and domination. When combined with the contemporary society's belief, presumably the later half of the 19th century, a further understanding of Chopin's thoughts and feelings can be realized. Mrs. Louise Mallard, the victim and messenger of this story, is the image of such a person. Her relationship with her husband is so oppressive and limiting that even death is considered a reasonable means of escape. The condition of life for Mrs. Mallard is terrible, yet for some reason she doesn't seem to come to the full realization until her husband death. This leads one to believe that was a common place for women to be unhappy in their marriage and have no conventional means of escape (divorce). However, Chopin doesn't directly make that point. Many women are in search of freedom from their marriage and they believe the only way to be free is to experience the death of their husband. Mrs. Louise Mallard is a repressed married woman that has a heart condition and the reaction to her husband's presumed death is a sign that she is unhappy. After hearing the tragic news she goes up stairs and looks out an open window and notices "new spring life", the delicious breath of rain", and " countless sparrows tittering in the eaves." As she looks out the window among the storm clouds, she stares at patches of the blue sky. "It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicted a suspension of intelligent thought." Louise is not grieving over the death of her husband nor is she having negative thoughts about her future. She is realizing that she will have freedom through her husband death and whispers over and over, "free, free, free!" Her unhappiness is not with her husband, it is her rankings in society and becoming a widow is her only chance she has to gain the power, money, respect, and most of all freedom. At the time of this story many women didn't have any source of revenue, so in order for her to gain the money she wanted to get the freedom she finally deserved; she would have to obtain it in two ways: inherited from her husband or receive it from her family. Mrs. Mallard was on her way to becoming the free woman she needed to be but there was this one thing holding her back, money, and the only the question was how she was going to get it in a respectable way. In the later half on the 19th century women looked at as the wife and mother, keeper of the household, guardian of moral purity of all who lived there. The home was to be a haven of comfort and quiet and sheltered from the harsh realities of the working world. Children were to be cherished and nurtured, and to pulling against these traditions was the sense of urgency. Women's roles were meant to steady, but women could not help but see opportunities for themselves in this growth. Jobs opened up in factories, retail establishments and offices, giving women new options. Education became mandatory for both genders in many states. Women sought higher education, too, first in all female institutions and then in co-ed environments. The push for women's rights, with suffrage in the forefront, also gathered momentum. Regardless of these changes, throughout the nineteenth century, 95% of married women remained "at home." Mrs. Mallard was different she was a female protagonist who felt it was time to do things on her own and become free from society's demands. Although Mrs. Mallard had the desire to be free, freedom was a different meaning to her than it is to us now. Women can work the same jobs, as a man and society no longer belittle women to play one role.

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