Oppression of Women in Chopin's The Story Of An Hour Essay

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Oppression of Women in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"

In an age where bustles, petticoats, and veils stifled women physically, it is not surprising that society imposed standards that stifled them mentally. Women were molded into an ideal form from birth, with direction as to how they should speak, act, dress, and marry. They lacked education, employable skills, and rights in any form. Every aspect of their life was controlled by a male authority figure starting with their father at birth and persisting through early womanhood into marriage where it was the husband who possessed control. Men believed that it was the law of the bible for one of the two parties to be superior and the other inferior. Women were ruled over as children and
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Mallard ducks are docile, unthreatening creatures that when in flight, fly in form...never wavering from their perfect V. This loyalty to conformity and meekness was the ideal society demanded. The similarity between mallards and women is striking and it is appalling how men ruled over women as if they were masters of animals.

Upon hearing of her husband's death, Mrs. Mallard was faced with conflicting emotions that she does not quite understand. It was all too clear to her how she should take the horrific news, but to her own surprise; feelings arose that were far from expected. Women were expected to feel helpless without their husbands as many widowed women were thrown into utter poverty and despair at the loss of their husbands' financial support. Mrs. Mallard felt something quite different and she initially did not want to accept the joy she experienced. Upon news of the death, Chopin describes images including the trees being "aquiver with new spring life", and sparrows "twittering in the eaves". Instead of describing dismal images typical of death, Chopin chooses to have Mrs. Mallard witness images of life and rebirth. Mrs. Mallard even sees patches of blue sky through the clouds, strongly symbolizing good things to come. Instead of grief encompassing her, Mrs. Mallard is overcome with joy. This is not because she is an evil women, nor that her husband was a bad man. This joy comes from the feeling of freedom she is experiencing

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