Love, Death, and Divorce Essay

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Henry David Thoreau famously said that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” When we compare and contrast these two stories, “The Story of an Hour” and “Desiree’s Baby,” by Kate Chapin, we learn that this sentiment may be especially true for women. Kate Chapin uses “The Story of an Hour” and “Desiree’s Baby” to bravely explore the social inequalities of women in terms of marriage and divorce. The combination of these two stories point out that despite the presence of love, not all marriages are happy and not all divorces are sad. In “Desiree’s Baby,” Desiree has married for love and wishes to stay married and through no fault of her own, she is forced to divorce. In contrast …show more content…
Once married, divorce was not a socially acceptable decision for couples, especially for the wife. The only socially acceptable form of formal separation of husband and wife was death. That being said, the event of a divorce in the life of a man was undesirable, but not completely devastating to his social standing. However, for women, divorce meant social death. Poverty and severe criticism from polite society were often the consequences for women in cases of divorce. For these reasons, many women stayed in unhappy marriages. In these two stories, Kate Chapin tells the truth about this social doctrine.
“The Story of An Hour” is about Mrs. Louise Mallard, who receives word that her husband Mr. Brently Mallard, has died in an accident. Kate Chapin uses the context of the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Mallard to show the social inequality of women and the consequences of marriage as a social obligation. Upon receiving word of her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard immediately breaks down in apparent grief. After this episode of grief, she retires to be alone. Once she is alone, Louise is surprised to find she is overwhelmed with strange emotions; brief guilt and overwhelming joy. Louise feels guilty because she knows that Mr. Mallard loved her and treated her with respect and kindness. However, Mrs. Mallard does not share this depth of feeling for her…

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