Marital Oppression in "The Story of an Hour" Essay

1819 Words Apr 19th, 2006 8 Pages
In "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, we are introduced to Mrs. Mallard, an unloving, heartless, woman who is overjoyed by the passing of her husband—or at least that is the common misconception. Mrs. Mallard although perceived as inhuman is actually more human than most would like to believe. While her actions may seem questionable or even to be condemned, they are hardly unthinkable in light of the issues involving marriage and the woman's role throughout history. The story itself presents a valid argument in favor of Louise as she is portrayed as the oppressed wife finally set free after her husband's death.
In the beginning of "The Story of an Hour," Mrs. Mallard is just a typical wife. It is not until she hears of her husband's
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The true question that should be asked is the motivation behind Mrs. Mallard's response to her husband's death, is Louise truly a heartless woman worthy of our condescension? As noted before, Louise was obviously an oppressed woman. Moreover, in light of the common treatment of marriage and women in the 1800's, there is little doubt that Louise was evidently trapped in her marriage, unable to divorce her husband despite the fact that she was noticeably unhappy, mainly because she simply would not have been able to, but also because she would have been condemned by society. When this is taken into consideration it is fairly easy to comprehend or even sympathize with Louise. It is only normal and in human nature to enjoy the very freedom to which we should all be entitled to. In this respect, Louise is neither cold-hearted nor inhumane.
The reactions displayed by Louise and that of student response do not entirely coincide. Perhaps this is do to Chopin's dedication of effectively elaborating Louise's joy while merely mentioning in passing Louise's momentary grief at the beginning. The choice of detail dedicated to the joy of losing the husband pushes the reader to automatically judge Louise disapprovingly because to do otherwise might somehow commend such cruelty. However, the fact still remains that Louise did

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