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It’s All in an Hour’s Worth: Mrs. Mallard’s Awakening Essays

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Discrimination against women has been prevalent for centuries now. From the nurturing/emotional stereotype, housewife status, lower pay in the workforce, to sexual abuse and more, women have suffered it all. However, Kate Chopin goes to the heart of what women have been deprived of most, a personal right without which freedom would have no meaning or value: self assertion, reflection, and independence. According to Harold Bloom, “Chopin offers concentrated descriptions of moments that shatter social complacency, that quickening of consciousness which gives birth to self-desire, self-recognition, and, in Chopin’s fictive world, consequent despair and self-alienation” (51). Critics predominantly agree that in her highly acclaimed short story, “Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard’s death is the result of a more intricate, spiritual reason than merely her heart problems. Having experienced an intense self reflection process that gave her the opportunity of a spiritual awakening and liberation that few women experienced then, the sight of her husband reminds Mrs. Mallard that she would have to give in to her husband and patriarchy again. As such, both her mind and body automatically choose physical death over spiritual imprisonment, after discovering the joy of freedom.
Kate Chopin drew from her own experience to depict a picture of women’s extremely limited lives in society and marriage, particularly in “Story of an Hour.” According to both Emily Toth’s “Unveiling Kate Chopin” and “Women’s Issues in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening,” Chopin’s father died suddenly from a railroad accident when she was still a child (9-11). In “Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard’s husband is alleged to have died in an akin form. Now, Toth states that there are ...


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... could under the influence of patriarchy and her husband. Anything was worth maintaining such powerful liberation, even losing her physical life.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold Ed. Whitman, Walt: Bloom's Modern Critical Views. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2007. Print.
Bryfonski, Dedria. Women's Issues in Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2012. Print.
http://my.hrw.com/support/hos/hostpdf/host_text_219.pdf
Jamil, S. Selina. "Emotions in the Story of an Hour." The Explicator 67.3 (2009): 215-20. Print.
Reed, Melissa Ann. "… That within Which Passes Show": The Character of Being, Poetry Therapy and the Performatives of Self-transformation in Menander's, Shakespeare’s and Chopin's Story of an Ho." Journal of Poetry Therapy 16.1 (2003): 29-44. Print.
Toth, Emily. Unveiling Kate Chopin. Jackson: University of Mississippi, 1999. Print.



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