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Gender roles and Marriage - Essay Example

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A gender role is usually decided by the society specifically within families. For instance, in the nineteenth century women were confined essentially to the household chores and the society as well as the household was dominated by the patriarchal structure…
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Gender roles and Marriage
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"Gender roles and Marriage"

Download file to see previous pages As time progressed the gender roles altered and the relationships and roles within the families were no longer confined to gender roles. While sex refers to the biological classification into male and female categories, gender indicates social classification of the masculine and feminine attributes. On the other hand identity depends on ones self realization about his or her sexual category. In the paper two stories have been taken up for study – ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ by James Thurber and ‘The Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin. In the former work, Mr. Mitty tries to build his masculine identity through his regular daydreams and in the second work, Mrs. Mallard tries to gain freedom from the repressive bond of marriage and a kind of sexual freedom is experienced after she hears the news of her husband’s death. In fact both these characters of opposite gender tries to gain freedom in their own ways. Mr. Walter Mitty attempts to gain freedom from the influence of his dominating wife who apparently always has the last word. The institution of marriage can be repressive owing to the influence of gender roles.

‘The Story of An Hour’ by the American writer Kate Chopin talks about the central character Mrs. Mallard’s reaction and mental transformation on hearing the news of her husband’s death and the mix of emotions experienced by the frail woman. Widowhood does cause some sorrow but within minutes it brings forth a new opportunity and light to the journey of life (GRIN Verlag, 2010, p.3). The transformation in thoughts and a feeling of some kind of freedom gradually replaces the initial feeling of loss. In this case the freedom enjoyed within shows how repressive the marriage could be. This is not really written to criticize the character of Mr. Mallard as a repressive husband but through the reactions of his wife, it mocks this supposedly happy union. The open window, the comfortable chair, ‘delicious breath of rain’ and the tops of the trees that were ‘all aquiver with the new spring life’, all indicate an underlying feeling of regeneration or rebirth and a mind which is open to the change and the new life that will belong solely to her. The open window through which she stares at the sky represents a glance at life through the eye of freedom. Mrs. Mallard was ‘young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength’; this description has been used as a tool to highlight the change that was taking place within. She was gaining her strength from the expectation of a new life approaching her. These new oncoming years have been portrayed like “creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air”. (Chopin, 1894) Chopin’s story bears significance to The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman where the wife finally protests against her husband who does not want her to write and always asks her to rest and sleep like a sick woman. Gilman finally breaks free of her husband’s control and tears off the wallpaper while Mrs. Mallard waits for a way out. The reason behind their desire for freedom is also different in each case. This was a time when the Women’s Suffrage Movement has just begun and several issues such as the domination and subjugation of a married woman was brought into consideration. A woman was considered as the property of her husband including her life and decisions. The spring of awareness was just born around the time this story was written (late nineteenth century) and hence Mrs. Mallard is kind of relieved that she would not have to face the domination of her husband henceforth. Again, there are sexual ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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