The Subjection of Women. New York: Dutton, 1928. Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.
“The Story of an Hour” expresses the difficulties of being a women in the late 1800’s in South America due to the issues of gender inequalities. This story, written by Kate Chopin, who was a married woman in late 1800’s, provides the perspective of a young married women who has limited freedom and is largely controlled by her husband. Throughout this story gender norms are clearly displayed in different ways. One clear example is when Mrs. Mallard, the protagonist, is expected to act a specific way when she hears the news of her dead husband, yet she feels the extreme opposite. The narrator then does a great job of expressing the reality of how Mrs. Mallard is truly feeling and uses that as a way to express the control as a conflict.
During the late nineteenth century, the time of protagonist Edna Pontellier, a woman's place in society was confined to worshipping her children and submitting to her husband. Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, encompasses the frustrations and the triumphs in a woman's life as she attempts to cope with these strict cultural demands. Defying the stereotype of a "mother-woman," Edna battles the pressures of 1899 that command her to be a subdued and devoted housewife. Although Edna's ultimate suicide is a waste of her struggles against an oppressive society, The Awakening supports and encourages feminism as a way for women to obtain sexual freedom, financial independence, and individual identity. Feminism is commonly thought of as a tool for educating society on the rights of women.
Baffled by sexism in the workforce, Friedan also remarks on the inconsistency of the changing expectations and the treatment of women in America throughout the twentieth century. In the 1920s, for example, the ideal young woman was educated, independent, had a career, and even put off marriage and having children. After women were told to give up their jobs during the depression to give to a man to support his family, women in the 1940s had to participate in traditional “male” jobs to help support World War II efforts. After the war, the women who found meaning in the jobs that they took over for men were told to leave under the pressure of propaganda saying that they men somehow needed it more than the women, and tha... ... middle of paper ... ...w 27.27 (1987): 61-75. Web.
It seems as though she demands equality between men and women but also manipulates relationships to rid herself of her daughter. The short story reveals Mrs. Mooney’s character is justified throughout her actions in the plot. After a bad marriage with a drunk, Mrs. Mooney opens a boarding house to make a living. In this short story, her tenants refer to her as, “Madam.” The author implies that she is respected through that statement. Having given her daughter the opportunity to be around so many men, Mrs. Mooney watches in silent approval as Polly begins to see a shy middle aged business man.
The effects of masculine structures and expectations from women pervade throughout the story. Virginia Woolf remains in Richmond because her husband is obeying the doctors even though she obviously dislikes Richmond. Laura was so devastated because she could not make the perfect cake for her husband. She was trying to play the role of the perfect mother and wife even though she was very unhappy. Clarrisan Vaughan spent so much time planning for a party that Richard did not want to attend.
During the 19th century, in eastern America, men were the heads of families and controllers of the work place, while women had little power, especially over their roles; particularly upper class women due to the lack of necessity for them to work outside the home. “Men perpetrated an ideological prison that subjected and silenced women”(Welter, Barbara). Their only responsibilities were to be modest, proper women who took care of themselves and did not stray from the purpose of motherhood. They were to remain in the home scene and leave the public work to the men; trapped in their own households, they were expected to smile, accept, and relish such a life. Barbra Walter also agrees that women were imprisoned in their homes, and were merely good for maintaining the family, “a servant tending to the needs of the family”(Welter).
Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” most poignantly balances the dual focus of her work, describing the incipient awakening of Mrs. Mallard, and thus exploring the possibility of feminine identity, even while, ultimately, denying the fruition of such an experience. Like all of her works, this short story reacts to a specific historical framework, the Cult of True Womanhood, in its indictment of patriarchal culture. As Barbara Welter notes, in the nineteenth century, “a women judged herself and was judged by her husband, her neighbors, and society” by the attributes of a True Woman which included, especially, “purity” and “domesticity” (372). The concept of purity, because it suggested that women must maintain their virtue, also, paradoxically, denied the... ... middle of paper ... ... Story of an Hour.’” CLA Journal 16 (November 1994): 59-64. Bauer, Margaret.
But what does Virginia’s mother have to do with Virginia’s writing? I chose to look at the problem of inheritance by starting with Julia’s first influences on Virginia, particularly her stories for children. I then move on to portraits of mothers in Virginia's novels. This essay is not only about Virginia’s task of overcoming "the Angel in the House" but moving past a confrontational and convoluted memory of a mother, into an orderly, whole picture of females working together. In talking about Virginia Woolf in the context of Julia Duckworth Stephen and feminism, I will start from the beginning of Virginia Stephen’s life.