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The role of Identity in the Story of the Hour, by Kate Chopin - Research Paper Example

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Name Instructor Class 23 June 2011 Identity in Chopin’s Story of An Hour The Story of an Hour depicts the gender conditions of women during Kate Chopin’s time. Mrs. Mallard just receives news that her husband is dead and she weeps over her loss. Inside her room, however, something beckons her…
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The role of Identity in the Story of the Hour, by Kate Chopin

Download file to see previous pages... Mallard sees her husband is alive after all. This paper analyzes identity formation and gender identity in the Story of an Hour. It is a story revolving around the themes of marriage and bondage. The story demonstrates that a wife’s identity is no identity at all, because it is defined by her gender and status beneath her husband, and wives like Mrs. Mallard would rather choose death over the life of “becoming” a woman in a man’s world. A wife’s identity is no identity at all, because it is a product of gender roles and expectations. All Mrs. Mallard’s life, she is Mrs. Mallard, and this is not an identity she can call her own. As a protagonist, she does not even have a specific name in the beginning of the story. She is only Mrs. Mallard, defined by her relation to her gender and husband. Her real name, Louise, is revealed only at the end of the story, when her sister worries about her bereavement in her room and asks her to open the door. But it can be analyzed that even Louise comes from the word Louie. She remains a product of her gender, a woman who is meant to do housework all her life and be a servant to men and her family. Being a woman during these times means a world of “repetition” of servitude. ...
(qtd. in Deutscher 328). Mrs. Mallard also knows this for a fact, which is why when she learns that she is free, she knows that the days of repetitive domestic tasks are gone forever. In her mind, she sees images of different seasons, all spent for herself: “Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own” (Chopin). When someone dreams of days becoming her own, one would feel that depth of servitude it must be to be a woman. And so in a span of an hour, Mrs. Mallard transforms into Louise, the free woman. She is her own woman, and she no longer has to be the wife of someone else. This idea of becoming a woman in her own terms can be gleaned from the symbols of empowerment in the story, such as songs and birds: “The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves” (Chopin). The song represents the song of freedom from bondage, while the sparrows are symbols of freedom and autonomy. Louise can flutter using her wings, and finally, fly away from being a traditional woman. Being a wife kills self-identity, since it is only defined by the social identity of being a wife, a slave of a husband. A social identity is “that part of an individual’s self-concept which derives from his [sic] knowledge of his membership of a social group (or groups)” and the importance placed on that membership (Tajfel 255 qtd. in Sacharin, Lee, and Gonzalez 275). But as a wife, Mrs. Mallard finds no importance in that membership. Essentially, she does not even love her husband: “And yet she had loved him--sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter!” (Chopin). She does not even love this man she calls her husband, but she has to stick with ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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