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Gender Roles in the Story of an Hour and The Necklace - Essay Example

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This essay discusses the two short stories, The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and The Necklace by Guy de Mauppassant which give a picture of the oppressive 19th century society in which the happiness of many women was stolen by restrictive gender roles…
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Gender Roles in the Story of an Hour and The Necklace
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Download file to see previous pages This research paper dwells upon the gender roles that are highly restrictive forbid women from living as they desire. Until the mid 20 century, being a woman automatically meant being a housewife. Women were oppressed and considered half-human. Instead of enjoying the freedom that men had, they were expected to stay at home full time, do housework, and take care of their children, husband and the homestead. They were never expected to work and this kept them in a state of total dependence on men. In many cases, the choice for marriage was dictated by social and economic status and the lack of status and financial power forced many women to stick to loveless marriages or marry men who were not their choices. The representation of themes like gender roles has always been a difficult thing and a controversial issue. In their efforts to bring it out more clearly, different authors have used different narratives, styles and even different contexts. However, much can be revealed and learnt from unhappy marriages when exploring the roles of males and females in marriage and the society. The two short stories, Story of an Hour and The Necklace the context of marriage in exploring the theme. They both focus on women who are in marriages they are not happy in. Each one of them is married to a husband who is caring and provides for the family. Although there are no forms of physical abuses in the two stories, the narrators bring out the desire for freedom that is dominant in the hearts of the two women who are main characters and center of focus in the stories. The main reason behind this state of unsatisfaction and continual unhappiness among the two women is gender roles that are oppressive to women. Apparently, the two women lived in societies where women were not supposed to obtain formal employment and thus their place was to stay at home and take care of home affairs. The two authors make it clear that the highly regarded issue of gender roles subjected women to unending domesticity. These women did not like it this way and need for freedom was powerful even to override the need for a husband who is loving and caring nor allow them to appreciate having responsible husbands. This is clearly seen in the story The Story of an Hour where Mrs. Mallard mourns shortly the death of her husband but the scenario quickly changes into feelings of relive and celebration of the newfound freedom. In a normal situation, such an event was expected to have turned her life dimmer and mark the start of a lonely life. Everyone would also expect that she mourns for a long period. However, Louise, who is Mrs. Mallard reacts contrarily. Later, it turns out that the man who had died was not her husband. Mr. Mallard finally comes back home and instead of rejoicing and celebrating, Louise instantly dies. Although she had been having a heart problem, there are high chances that the she died from the sudden realisation that the freedom she had found would be lost. Jamil (217) suggests that this could therefore have aggravated her heart condition, something that the news of the death of her husband did not bring about. This shows that her desire for freedom surpassed the love for her husband and the loss of this freedom was more traumatising then losing a husband and a breadwinner. This was against the norms of the 19th century society where women were supposed to show the highest possible respect and love to their husbands. They were to dedicate all their lives serving hem and caring for their needs. The same situation applies to Mathilde in the story the Necklace. In the story, it is evident that Mathilde is constantly unhappy despite being married to a clerk who does all that he could to make her happy. Mathilde does not seem to recognise all these, instead, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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