A Feminist Critical Perspective in Kate Chopin’s “The Story on an Hour”
Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.
(Simone de Beauvoir)
Simone de Beauvoir was a French writer, philosopher and a feminist activist, her work along with Elaine Showalter’s were important to diffuse feminist theory in the 1960s. Beauvoir words above shows criticism to the patriarch society were men holds all the power and whenever woman tries to achieve political or economic success they are viewed as a fraud. The war of sexes is not a modern issue and it was present in early societies it also differs from culture to culture. There are a small percentage of matriarchy society in the world take for example the Ede of Vietnam and the Mosuo people of China where the power and decisions are in the hands of women. “The story of an hour” by Kate Chopin dives in the mind of a woman oppressed by her marriage. An analysis of the story though a feminist criticism perspective reveals the paradigm of marriage in the early 1900s and the forbidden independence woman faced.
Her work was beyond her time and considered unpublishable. The author revealed a woman without the fear of her interpretation of the world or even her own feelings: “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance” (Chopin, 1200). As consequence, this woman was also isolated due her difference from mainstream women, for that the author uses a remarkable form to describe Louise’s pain: “When the storm of grief had spent itself, she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her”(Chopin, 1201).“The story of an hour” scrutinizes ...
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...overwhelming joy upon seeing her husband alive or that she died of disappointment upon realizing that her fantasized freedom would no longer be possible. With one sentence Chopin is able to fulfill both the expectation of the patriarch society, that Louise deserved dying for rejoicing in her husband death and also satisfy the feminist audience with the possibility that she rather dies than continue to live a repressed life.
As we have seen, Chopin creates the fiction character Louise to spread her feminist ideas. In a short story with around three pages she is able to eloquently narrate the roller coaster of emotions of the protagonist culminating in her sudden death while defying society’s norms through Louise’s thoughts. Discussing ideas like breaking gender roles stereotypes in marriage as well as the empowerment of women independence and self-expression.
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