Knowing that Mrs.Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death. This, the opening sentence of the story, is the base and premise upon which the rest of the story is built on. In the ensuing course of events the tragic irony of this line is revealed. The Story of an Hour, Written by Kate Chopin – a woman and classical feminist author in every sense of the label – depicts a young housewife by the name of Mrs.Mallard who has just learned that her husband has died in a train accident. Much to the reader’s likely surprise, Mrs.Mallard is not heartbroken, but is actually happy, stating But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely.. When analyzed through the various lenses of the Feminist perspective, specifically those that state that works of art created by women often have different perspectives, and that works authored by men frequently reinforce patriarchal views of women, the main theme of the story becomes clear: both women and men are both oppressed within the social constructs of marriage and similar heterosexual relationships.
Feminist analysis shows that Chopin used the idea that works written by women often have unique depictions of women in order to circumvent the readers expectations for the story and open them up to the main theme of the story.
When Mrs.Mallard is demonstrably happy at the news of her husband’s death, it’s not because she hates her husband, this is obvious when she says She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death , it’s because she’s overjoyed at the idea that she would be free from the repression of her marriage, as clear when she says There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself.. This reveals that Mrs.Mallard isn’t happy within her marriage because she feels trapped, which falls out of the typical standards of romance in many works of media written by men – it’s an idea at the time that only a woman would express. This helps to construct the main theme: that marriage is a curse on it’s participants, particularly women.
Further analysis from the feminist perspective shows that the author used the idea that works created by men often (unconsciously or consciously) reinforce the standard patriarchal stereotypes of women to expand on the theme of marriages becoming stifling to the participants. This is done by contradicting what is often expected of women in media. Women are expected to be content in their relationships and to happily allow men to control their lives – Mrs.Mallard is not. This is evident in the text when she expresses her joy at having …no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence , she is only content when she is finally free. This is also supported when Mrs.Mallard’s sister thinks she is harming herself out of sadness, when ironically she’s happily celebrating her newfound freedom, as obvious to the readers when she answers her sister by saying ? Go away. I am not making myself ill. This divergence from the standard patriarchal concepts of womanhood helps to convey the idea that when men create media, they reinforce patriarchal concepts, as well as implying that many men don’t really know (or worse, care) about what women want and need in relationships. This supports the theme of the story, that relationships in the heterosexual sense are often bad for women.
Using the feminist perspective to analyze The Story of an Hour reveals that women are often oppressed when in relationships. The central character of the story, Mrs.Mallard, is both an example of how a female character can be written better and more believably when written by a female, and also a contradiction of how many female characters are often written by men. Mrs.Mallard is not content with her marriage and often feels trapped by it. Tragically, her heart trouble, which her sister thought might kill her once Mrs.Mallard found out about her husband’s death, ironically killed her once it was revealed that he was alive.
This reveals that Chopin believes that marriages are traps for restraining women. She wants to send the message that if marriage as a concept is to be saved, it must be reformed to better benefit both participants.
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