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Women Struggling with their Marriages in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" and "Desiree's Baby"

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Kate Chopin is an American author who wrote two novels and about a hundred short stories in the 1890s. Most of her fiction is set in Louisiana and most of her work focuses on the lives of intelligent women. Two widely known short stories that Chopin wrote are The Story of an Hour and Desiree’s Baby. Both stories are about women who have struggling relationships with their husbands.

The Story of an Hour is about a woman, Mrs. Mallard, who suffers with a heart problem. Her husband’s friend, Richards, and her sister Josephine have to tell Mrs. Mallard that her husband has died in a train accident. They are both concerned that this news might danger Mrs. Mallard’s health. However, when Mrs. Mallard hears about the news, she feels excitement and a spur of freeness. Even though her husband is dead, she doesn’t have to live the depressing life she has been living. Mrs. Mallard sits in a chair and then whispers, “Free, free, free!” She knows that she will cry again when she sees him dead. But she keeps whispering, “Free! Body and soul free!” Josephine kneels at the door and tells Mrs. Mallard to open the door. Mrs. Mallard makes a quick prayer that life might be long and then opens the door. Together, they go downstairs. Someone is opening the front door, and it is Brently Mallard, Mrs. Mallard’s husband. He had been far away from the accident and didn’t know there had been one. Richards tries to cover him from the view of his wife, however he is too late. When the doctors come they say she has died of heart disease.

Desiree’s Baby is about a girl named Desiree, who is adopted by the Valmonde family after they find her in the shadow of a stone pillar. When Desiree becomes a young woman, a plantation owner with one of the finest nam...


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...tween her and her husband. The last letter in the story is the letter written by Armand’s mother. This letter reveals that he is the one that is responsible for the child’s appearance.

There had been unexpected twists at the end of the stories, though the twists are appropriate for the outcome. The twists are to have a main message. The Story of an Hour represents the male dominated society and the subjugation of women. The short story suggests that Brently Mallard dominated his wife – and for this, she is not happy, and dies soon after. Desiree’s Baby also represents women’s lack of power and male domination in the society. When Desiree’s mother tells her to come home, based on Armand’s reaction to having a child the same color as a slave, Desiree has to seek approval of her husband to leave. This shows his control in their relationship and his power over Desiree.


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