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Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour and Feminism in the 1800s Essay

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According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, feminism is defined as the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Feminism is a major part of the short story, “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, which is a story that portrays women’s lack of freedom in the1800s. Women had no rights, and had to cater to all of their husband’s needs. The main character in “The Story of an Hour” is a woman who suffers from heart trouble, named Mrs. Mallard. When Mrs. Mallard was told about her husband’s death, she was initially emotional, but because of her husband’s death she reaped freedom and became swept away with joy. The story is ironic because Mrs. Mallard learns her husband was not dead, and instead of exulting her husband’s sudden return she regretted abandoning her moment of freedom. An analysis of “The Story if an Hour” through the historical and feminist lenses, suggests that the story is really about women’s self-identity in the 1800s male-dominated society, and how it caused women’s lack of freedom.
During the 1800s, males dominated and were the superior gender in the
society. Women’s rights and feminism did not exist. In the 1800s divorces were frowned upon and everything was given to the males.
In the Declaration of Sentiments, Stanton enumerated specific complaints concerning the oppressed status of women in American society: their inability to vote; exclusion from higher education and professional careers; subordination to male authority in both church and state; and legal

victimization in terms of wages, property rights, and divorce (Driscoll 1).
Since males acquired all the assets and children during a divorce, a woman’s only hope to gain freedom and assets was to rel...


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...orced,

the men don’t get everything; both the man and the woman have an equal chance to prove they are worthy enough to obtain assets and children. Usually the female acquires the children and the male acquires the assets. “The Story of an Hour” might inspire some modern-day wives to oppose their husbands if their marriages are not going so well. This story has made me aware of my equal rights as a woman, and how much I take those rights for granted.

Works Cited
Chopin, Kate. "Story of an Hour." New York: Vogue Magazine, 1894. 156-158.
Driscoll, Kerry. "Feminism." American History Through Literature 1870-1920. Ed. Tom Quirk and Gary Scharnhorst. Vol. 1. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006. 380-386. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Niles North High School. 3 Mar. 2008.
Merriam-Webster Online. 2005. Merriam-Webster Online. 20 Feb. 2008 .


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