The Power of the Written Word: Literary Greats Paving the Way for Social Equality

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Throughout history, women have struggled with, and fought against oppression. They have been held back and weighed down by the sexist ideas of a male dominated society which has controlled cultural, economic and political ideas and structure. During the mid-1800’s to early 1900’s women became more vocal and rebuked sexism and the role that had been defined for them. Fighting with the powerful written word, women sought a voice, equality amongst men and an identity outside of their family. In many literary writings, especially by women, during the mid-1800’s to early 1900’s, we see symbols of oppression and the search for gender equality in society. Writing based on their own experiences, had it not been for the works of Susan Glaspell, Kate Chopin, and similar feminist authors of their time, we may not have seen a reform movement to improve gender roles in a culture in which women had been overshadowed by men. In The Story of an Hour, the main character, Mrs. Louise Mallard, is a young woman with a heart condition who learns of her husband’s untimely death in a railroad disaster. Instinctively weeping as any woman is expected to do upon learning of her husband’s death, she retires to her room to be left alone so she may collect her thoughts. However, the thoughts she collects are somewhat unexpected. Louise is conflicted with the feelings and emotions that are “approaching to possess her...” (Chopin 338). Unexpectedly, joy and happiness consume her with the epiphany she is “free, free, free!” (Chopin 338). Louise becomes more alive with the realization she will no longer be oppressed by the marriage as many women of her day were, and hopes for a long life when only the day prior, “…she had thought with a shudder that life may ... ... middle of paper ... ..." Read 59.4 (2009): 22-25. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. Harris, Sharon M. "Kate Chopin." Magill’S Survey Of American Literature, Revised Edition (2006): 1-5. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. Hedges, Elaine. "Small Things Reconsidered: Susan Glaspell's' 'A Jury of Her Peers'." Women's Studies 12.1 (1986): 89. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. Long, Robert Emmet, “Kate Chopin.” Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition (2010): 1-7. Literary reference Center Plus. Web. 19 April 2014. McDaniel, L. Bailey. “Literary Contexts In Plays: Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles.” (2006): 1. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. Steinbeck, John. “The Chrysanthemums” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V Roberts and Robert Zweig. 10th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2012. 416-422. Print.

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