Women's Independence in the 19th Century: The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

Women's Independence in the 19th Century: The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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“Men weren't really the enemy - they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill.” (quotegarden) As changes in industry and lifestyle swept the nation in the mid-nineteenth century, questions regarding women’s place in society started to arise. This prompted many women to reevaluate their positions in their own lives. At the time, women were dominantly domestic figures, residing in the house to matronly care for children and tend to household duties not to be bothered with by the husband. It is important to note that men in this century were raised and cultivated to have a certain view of women, so they are not actually malicious as some might view them, they are simply products of their environment. It just so happened that women drew the metaphorical “short stick”. Socially and politically, women were not independent. The only voice they had was through their husbands, and relationships and ideas shared with other women at this time were thought to be nothing more than domestic chatter, not to be taken seriously. The only exception to this widely accepted rule was, of course, a widow. She was not tied to a husband or father, or any male for that matter, so she had more freedom over not only her estate but her personal life as well. This is the situation Louise Mallard finds herself in in Kate Chopin’s short story, The Story of an Hour. Chopin illustrates the woman’s newfound feelings of pure freedom that come with the death of her husband and helps readers to understand the oppression felt by women during this time period using Mrs. Mallard’s view on her marriage and her intense emotions, along with the inner conflict she feels. ...

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...ng fought by women today around the world. The advocacy of women’s rights in the nineteenth and twentieth century through protest, literature, and public advocacy, like the Seneca Falls Convention and the Suffragettes of the early twentieth century, helped shape society and mold it into a more desirable place for gender equality.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Eds. Elizabeth M. Schaaf, Katherine A. Retan, and Joanne Diaz. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1997. 12-14. Print.
“Introduction.” Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and Its Leaders. National Women’s History Museum, 2007. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

“Quotations: Feminism.” Quotegarden. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

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