Love, Death, and Divorce Essay

Love, Death, and Divorce Essay

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Henry David Thoreau famously said that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” When we compare and contrast these two stories, “The Story of an Hour” and “Desiree’s Baby,” by Kate Chapin, we learn that this sentiment may be especially true for women. Kate Chapin uses “The Story of an Hour” and “Desiree’s Baby” to bravely explore the social inequalities of women in terms of marriage and divorce. The combination of these two stories point out that despite the presence of love, not all marriages are happy and not all divorces are sad. In “Desiree’s Baby,” Desiree has married for love and wishes to stay married and through no fault of her own, she is forced to divorce. In contrast “The Story of an Hour” is about Louise, who has married out of social obligation and wishes to divorce, but is forced to stay married. Both women are forced to follow paths not of their own choosing and submit to the rules set down by a male dominated society. In spite of society’s tendency to romanticize marriage, many women find marriage to be a limiting burden; for others, marriage may be the only chance at life.
Since time out of mind society has had a long standing tradition of a double standard in its treatment of the gender roles. Men were judged more on their assets. Their business and social connections made up their reputations, and they were treated as individual people regardless of their marriage status. In contrast, the very identity of a woman was dependent on her connection to a man and his social position. For women, marriage and children was the only way to have a happy or meaningful life. It was unthinkable that a woman would not marry. Single women were sometimes viewed ...

... middle of paper ... us that the choices for women in marriage were both limited and limiting in their scope and consequences. As can be seen, it came down to a choice between honoring the private will of the self, versus, honoring the traditions and requirements of society as a whole. Women were subject to the conditions set down by the man of the house and because of the social inequality of women as a gender class; few fought the rope that tied them down to house, hearth, and husband, despite these dysfunctions. They simply resigned themselves to not having a choice.

Works Cited

Chapin, Kate. “Desiree’s Baby.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter et al. Concise ed. Boston: Houghton, 2004. 1522. Print.
Chapin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter et al. Concise ed. Boston: Houghton, 2004 1524. Print

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