Essay on Social Expectations in Story of an Hour and Sorrowful Woman

Essay on Social Expectations in Story of an Hour and Sorrowful Woman

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Social Expectations and Marriage in The Story of an Hour and A Sorrowful Woman

    Marriage does not always bring people happiness they expect.  A number of people feel trapped in their own marriages.  Mrs. Mallard in Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and the unnamed protagonist in Gail Godwin’s “A Sorrowful Woman” are among those who experience such unfortunate.  Only one hour in her marriage did Mrs. Mallard feel really happy; that was, bizarrely, when she was told about her husband’s death.  For the female protagonist in “A Sorrowful Woman,” her marriage was a torment.  All the time, she suffers from grief and sadness.  Both of the women are imprisoned in their own marriages and even more so in their own minds, which eventually lead them to death.  Successfully describing their main characters’ developments of feelings, Kate Chopin and Gail Godwin, two authors from two different time periods, undoubtedly point out that the conflict between society and individuals is the cause of the sadness and tragedy of marriage. 

First of all, through the settings of their stories, both of the authors suggested that social expectations be the real causes of their protagonists’ deaths.  In “A Sorrowful Woman,” the unnamed protagonist has a desirable life.  She has a “durable, receptive, gentle” husband and a “tender golden three” son (33)[i].  “He was attuned to her; he understood such things” (33) indicates that her husband always understood her.  He is willing to sacrifice his time for her and their family.  Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” is in a similar environment.  Knowing that she has a heart trouble, “great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (10).  Her friends a...

... middle of paper ...

...or them death is freedom.  And only through death they are able to escape from their tragedy.  The stories invoke so much thought from people.  Should a society be more generous to people?  Should a society try to understand social groups, individuals, relationships, and values?  If a society could do these, there would be less tragedy like such in Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and Godwin’s “A Sorrowful Woman.”           


[i]  All of the quotations using in this paper are from:

        Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Mayer. 5th ed.

             Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999.  Pages: 10-12.

        Godwin, Gail. “A Sorrowful Woman.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Mayer. 5th ed.

             Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999.  Pages: 33-37.


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