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Literary - Research Paper Example

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Name: Course: Tutor: Date: A Critical Analysis of the Feminist Theme in “The Story of an Hour” Introduction Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” deals with the inherent patriarchy of marriage. Even the kindest and most loving husband’s presence in a woman’s life can be as oppressive as the unswerving patriarchal restriction is…
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Download file to see previous pages Chopin’s sotry tells the readers about a husband’s suffocating grip on a woman’s life. In the story, the husband has not been presented in a direct negative light; rather a husband’s care and kindness for a wife ironically prove to be harmful for a wife. The irony lies in the fact that in a patriarchal society, no matter how much a husband tries to be kind like Mrs. Mallard’s husband in “Story of an Hour”, they are “the patriarchal annihilators of the women’s freedom” (Cunningham 52). Chopin does not tell her readers anything clearly about why the heroine of the story cannot explain her complacence and ecstasy at her husband’s death. Rather the author simply presents a small fragment of a woman’s life that provokes a reader to read the story as a sequel to his or her own real life. Obviously Chopin’s story will be endowed with a greater meaning, if Mrs. Mallard’s forbidden joy of independence is perceived in a real life setting. In a real life setting, Mrs. Mallard is like most other common women who, having no economic independence, cannot but depend on their husbands. Therefore, they are compelled to obey their husbands while suppressing their own desires (Stein 31; Deneau 211). Indeed, it is the patriarchal society that keeps them away from any self-supporting activities; that wants them to be loyal to their husband, and that punishes them and also endows the male counterparts with a power to reprimand and punish their wives in cases of the violation of the behavior codes that women are expected to follow. Also it is the patriarchal society that can confine women within the four walls of their husbands’ house. Nicole Smith refers to Mrs. Mallard’s confinement as following: “The world outside of her own bedroom is only minimally described, but the world inside of her mind is lively and well described by the narrator. The window outside of her room is alive and vibrant like her mind, while everything about her physically is cloistered” (1). In such a patriarchal setting, Mrs. Mallard is really lucky enough to get a husband like Brently who is kind and loving to her. So Mrs. Mallard know that she should not feel the joy at her husband’s possible death. Yet she cannot but feel “the ecstasy since her joy at the death of husband as an imposer of restriction is far more higher than her sorrow at the death of husband as a sympathizer” (Stein 28-9). In her story, Chopin deals with the same story of a woman’s lack of freedom in a round-about way. In contradiction to others’ expectation Mrs. Mallard senses the gush of complacent freedom hearing the news of her husband’s death. She feels sad. But concurrently she also feels the complacence at her oncoming freedom, as the narrator describes Mrs. Mallard’s joy in the following manner: “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name” (Chopin, “Story of an Hour”). At the news of Bentley’s death, she feels the prospect of living a life of enormous freedom and joy. But since in patriarchy a woman is not accustomed to express herself freely, she fears even to acknowledge the source of mirth and ecstasy. Though “she was striving to beat it back with her will” (Chopin, “the Story of an Hour”), she fails to do so. Indeed it is her self-realization and her acknowledgement that the death of her husband and the prospect of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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