Can Society Influence One's Identity? Essay

Can Society Influence One's Identity? Essay

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Does it come from within which makes us who we are, or is it our environment that molds us? The debate is on. With the comparison of “Story of an Hour,” written by Kate Chopin and “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut, the idea of society influencing an individual’s identity is put in to picture through different scenarios. Society has rules to be followed, deviance is frowned upon, and obedience only causes repression for the individual who then loses their individuality. The freedom to be ourselves is an important one, and is one worth standing up for.
In the “Story of an Hour,” the main character, Mrs. Mallard, has lost her identity because of her husband. With the death of Mr. Mallard, Mrs. Mallard exclaims that, “there would be no powerful will bending her in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature”(Chopin 222). Often, people in relationships try to mold the other person to fit to their needs. Through Mrs. Mallard’s eyes, this influence whether “a kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime…” (Chopin 222). If someone is intruding on your freedom, which includes the right to be who you are, conflict can build in the relationship. There are those who can refuse the pressure to change, but some crumble underneath the stress and end up changing who they really are.
During the Victorian Era, the time when this piece was written, it was a patriarchal society. Women were expected to be submissive and obedient towards their husbands. Mrs. Mallard speaks of feeling “…pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul” (Chopin 221). She has grown tired of fighting for her voice,...


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...o the user’s attention the desire to have never possessed these qualities in the first place. Society makes it hard to display one’s individuality, especially if it’s extraordinary, because society makes you feel shame on the account of being unlike everyone else.
Through the stories “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut and Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour,” we see that society can influence one’s identity. Expectations, rules, and or laws set by society may prohibit certain behaviors, such as rejoicing at the death of a loved one. Being denied the right to be yourself can bring with it feelings of repression or resulting guilt for being that way. Society in general does not easily accept change or deviance to the norm. A difference in views, opinions, and feelings creates change for the better, and can only be voiced through different individual identities.


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