In A Noose Essay

901 words - 4 pages

More than half a century before the feminist movement of the 1960's, Kate Chopin wrote about women and marriage. Her writings shine a light into a subject that was not addressed at a time. Chopin's stories show marriage within this late 19th century society as domineering. It puts women into a subclass. In "The Storm", Bobinôt "was accustomed to converse on terms of perfect equality with his little son"(858). Calixta is a stay at home mom and none of these women have careers. The Doctors in "The Story of an Hour" are all men. Through examining two of her short stories, "The Storm" and "The Story of an Hour" one can conclude that she saw the institution of marriage as a repressive and soul sucking entity in the lives of women.Cornerstone to this institution is the a fundamental sense of duty that is imposed and supported by the society at the time. We see in "The Story of an Hour" that Mrs. Mallard is expected to mourn and it is feared by her sister that the news of her husbands death will make her ill. Also within this story is the idea that Mrs. Mallard died of the joy from seeing that her husband is alive. She was expected to feel so and was pronounced as such by the attending male physicians.Duty is also a common element in "The Storm". The central character, Calixta is described as sewing, mopping, bringing in the clothes off of the clothes line and later greets her husband with dinner, coffee and concern. She is the quintessential pre-feminist house wife. Also within this story is Clarisse, who even when on vacation takes charge of the kids.Both Mrs. Mallard and Calixta go against this imposed value. Mrs. Mallard does this through her realization of freedom, autonomy and a sense of self-reliance upon internalizing that her husband is now gone. Chopin uses irony here to show us how this is event is actually very joyous and liberating to the central character. The last line is doubly ironic: "The doctors wrongly assume that she was overjoyed to find that her husband was alive but they were not wholly wrong in guessing that her last day of life brought her great joy" (qtd. in Barnett 4). Calixta rebels via infidelity and enjoys a moment of passion whereby she can return to her duties as loving wife and mother and she does this without coming off as "an over-scrupulous housewife"(860).Chopin's further problems with the institution of marriage are derived from her viewing it as a repressive force that subjugates women to a lower level of person. When Mrs. Mallard embraces the thought of freedom that comes from being a widow, Chopin writes "There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe...

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