Mrs. Mallard, from The Story of an Hour, is an excellent example of the oppressed women of the 19th century. Her reaction to the death of her husband highlights all the issues in the dominantly male society. There were stereotypes and specifically narrow duties of a woman during that time. Reacting with grief at first, the story shows the many fast paced reactions that bring to light just how binding life as a woman during the 19th century was, and how women eventually took control and made a change.
From birth, a woman’s existence, during Mrs. Mallards time, was dominated by the men in her life. If a woman had a brother she was expected to be dedicated to making his life and her father’s life as fulfilling as possible. This was the woman’s duty. Wives were basically seen as objects and slaves to men. When a man was at work, women were to be caring for the kids and making sure the home was prepared for the husband. The reason women existed was to find a suitable husband and reproduce.
How Mrs. Mallard reacted to her husband’s death can be directly linked to these stereotypes and duties that were placed upon females. Women of that time were expected to remain private in comparison to men’s very public life. They were seen as emotional, pure, timid creatures while men were supposed to be working, active, and tainted. Other stereotypes include all women being domestic, illogical, and dependent. These stereotypes were socially accepted throughout all of America, leading to the mixed feelings Mrs. Mallard experienced when she learned of Mr. Mallards death.
At first Mrs. Mallard experiences the natural sadness of learning of her husband’s death. Then as she goes and sits in her room she has other thoughts. “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” One can see that she begins to see her freedom now that she is widowed. The dominance and control she once was held down by is no longer there. She also sees how her marriage degraded her to the point where she seemed like less of a...