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Marital Oppression In The Story Of An Hour by Kate Chopin

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In "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, we are introduced to Mrs. Mallard. She is portrayed an unloving, heartless, woman who is overjoyed by the passing of her husband-— or at least that is the common misconception. Mrs. Mallard although perceived as inhuman, is actually more human than most would like to believe. While her actions may seem questionable or even to be condemned, they are hardly unthinkable in light of the issues involving marriage and the woman's role throughout history. The story itself presents a valid argument in favor of Louise as she is portrayed as the oppressed wife finally set free after her husband's death.
In the beginning of "The Story of an Hour," Mrs. Mallard is just a typical wife. It is not until she hears of her husband's death that she then simply becomes Louise, now an individual, no longer overshadowed by her husband. Following her husband's death, Louise feels she will no longer suffer a "powerful will bending her" (14), thus indicating she had lacked a voice in the marriage. Chopin clearly indicates this lack of freedom and individuality in Louise's marriage stating, "[. . .] that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature." (14). This statement reflects how men and women oppress each other, denying one another freedom and a sense of identity. This is in line with the common view that women lost their individuality because their, "legal existence had been extinguished by the status of marriage." (Robson). Next, we learn that Louise actually begins to accept, even enjoy the notion of a life by herself, as Chopin writes the years "that would belong to her absolutely [. . .] she would live for herself." (14). Louise woul...


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Kearl, Michael C. "Marriage and Family Life." A Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace. 16 Nov. 2005. http://www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/index.html#in.
Mink, Gwendolyn. "The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History: Legal Status." Houghton Mifflin Study Center. 19 Nov. 2005. http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/women/html/wh_020600_legalstatus.htm.
Robson, Ruthann. "The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History: Marriage." Houghton Mifflin Study Center. 19 Nov. 2005. http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/women/html/wh_022200_marriage.htm.
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