Societal Conventions In The Story Of An Hour By Kate Chopin

965 Words 4 Pages
The societal conventions that have enslaved individuals in regards to race, sexuality, gender roles, among other social constructs, have been used to debilitate women in particular. Most people often feel they are imprisoned in a box, suffocating from the pressure to conform to societal norms. This idea is explored in the short story written by Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour.” Chopin elucidates the social conventions that have plagued women along with the impact they cause through Mrs. Mallard, the protagonist of the story. The author demonstrates that an individual’s reaction to challenging societal conventions will consist of several stages. The psychological processes that take place when one attempts to liberate themselves from conventional …show more content…
Mrs. Mallard is a clear depiction of the unspoken repression women faced during this time period. She is described by the author as “young, with a fair, calm face whose line bespoke repression and even a certain strength.” This excerpt illustrates a juxtaposition in which the word “young” is used in the same breath as “lines that bespoke repression,” showing her stress under the influence of societal conventions. It emphasizes the mental exhaustion she suffers from as she desperately tries to follow the norms that have been imposed upon her. She, as well as the majority of women in this era, felt a sense of powerlessness in the face of the standard which has been prescribed by society. Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to societal conventions is that of repression because she is a woman that is deprived of a life led by her own will. Although she is cognizant of the societal conventions, she represses her intuitive thoughts about her seemingly monstrous sense of happiness.The author states, “It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.” Fear of the sadness she lacks for “the [one] that had never looked save with love upon her,” disturbed her initially, but a greater fear would momentarily paralyze her: The fear of freedom and the exhilarating joy it would …show more content…
She was consumed by this “ elixir of life” and so her husband being alive symbolizes the freedom being stripped from her fingertips. Mrs. Mallard experienced multiple challenging obstacles in order to gain the ability to accept this freedom. Her three main reactions in an attempt to free herself from the conventions that society has set in place was repression to follow unspoken rules, followed by a fear ensued by the virtue of defiance, which ultimately lead to an acceptance of divine freedom. Mrs. Mallard did not die of “the joy that kills”, but rather of the misery that

Related Documents