Existentialism In The Story Of An Hour

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How significant was “The Story of an Hour” for the time that it was written in? Authors often exert their opinions, environment, and innate qualities and characteristics into their writing. Occasionally, they will apply their understanding of the world around them to their writing to demonstrate their viewpoint of a particular issue to bring awareness or possibly facilitate change. In “The Story of an Hour,” Kate Chopin provided a brief look into how repressive marriage was during the 19th century. Examining the rights of married women in the 19th century, one would agree that the marriage benefited only the husband. Kate Chopin’s work was published during a time of industrial and social change. Many married women were not confined to just …show more content…
According to Beauvoire, a woman who “wants to be active, a taker, and refuses the passivity man means to impose on her”; who insists on the active transcendence of a subject, the pour soi, rather than the passive immanence of an object, the en soi; and who attempts to achieve an existentialist authenticity through making a conscious choice, giving her own laws, realizing her essence, and making herself her own destiny. (Seyersted)
How does it reflect or refute important values or trends or customs of its time and place?
In “The Story of An Hour” Kate Chopin expresses disdain in which married women are expected to surrender their will to their husband. This type of attitude toward marriage went against societal expectations, attitudes, and customs at the time. Early in the 19th century, American common law followed English common law. Under coverture, a married women was not allowed to own property, have financial control of her earnings, engage in any legally binding agreement, or formulate a will. Once a woman married, she relinquished all her civil and property rights to her husband. Early laws automatically granted full custody of the children to the husband. Women weren’t allowed to vote or hold any public office. (Salmon) Beginning in the 1840’s, divorce rates rose. Although the option of divorce was available to women, woman still suffered social implications. If a woman divorced,
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Chopin would mock the many social conventions placed on women in her writing. According to Elizabeth Ammons in Conflicting Stories: American Writers at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Chopin was part of a group of writers who longed to be "artists" in addition to professionals. (Thomas) The Story of an Hour was originally denied for publication based on its lack of moral principles, because many editors recognized in it "an unseemly interest in female assertion." Works of female writers consisting of stories of women seeking independence would not have been well received, especially a story of a woman who is elated with the death of her husband. Although, Mrs. Mallard 's joy causes her to lose her life at the end of the story, neither the character nor the author are vindicated.

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