The position of womean in the society has been an issue for discussion for a long time. The struggle for equal rights was long and complicated, but successful. Today women hold high offices of big companies, command military services and earn billions of dollars along with men. Females study and teach at the best colleges and universities, make important scientific discoveries, and receive the most prestigious awards in all the areas of art, science, and technology. Nowadays, when women play the same roles in every sphere of life as men, it seems impossible that only one century ago females were suppressed by men, were supposed to lead the life of housewives for long years and decades. However, this was athe true tragedy for women for centuries, which remained reflected in many novels, poems, and short stories. One of the stories, which are devoted to womens strive for independence is The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin.
Kate Chopin was an American writer, who was considered to be the forerunner of the feminist movement and writers in the USA. She was lucky to receive some education, however, after her marriage and giving birth to six children she was no longer able to continue her studies. After her husbands death she had to deal with his business, which brought nothing but debts. She was greatly interested in different spheres of the life of the society and her works contain various topics, among which one of the most important is the role and destiny of a woman.
The Story of an Hour is one of the most well-known and highly praised short stories byof Kate Chopin. It tells about a woman named Louise Mallard, who suddenly finds out that her husband Brently Mallard has died in a railroad accident. The woman has controversial feelings concerning this accident. On the one hand, she weeps and grieves, as she loved her husband, on the other hand, she becomes free and understands that from now on her life is her concern only: "She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome" (Chopin). However, at the end of the story Mr. Mallard comes home safe and sound, which results in the death of Mrs. Mallard.
The story is set in the USA at the end of the 19th century. As the text tells the story of a woman in marriage, the central theme is seen as the destiny of a woman in marriage and her self-identification. Mrs. Mallard acknowledges that her husband was a kind and loving man, however, it did not prevent him from suppressing her as a personality, even subconsciously. In the 19th century all women were bound to their husbands socially and legally, therefore, they were supposed to live the lives of their men, not the lives they would have chosen themselves. This is why for many of them the question of freedom and self-expression was so important and painful. Therefore, the main idea of the story is that every person, without paying attention to gender, has the inborn will to express themselves and the right to do it freely. Blind persistence that men and women have the right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature (Chopin) , through the story Kate Chopin expresses her idea of equality between men and women in the way they lead their lives and influence others.
There are numerous stylistic devices in The Story of an Hour, the most vivid of which are irony and repetition. Irony is seen to be the main stylistic device in the text as it penetrates the whole story. First of all, the way Mrs. Mallard reacts to the death of her husband everybody expects her to faint, to lose herself in grief as she has a weak heart. However, her reaction is almost opposite to what was expected she is in grief, but it does not kill her, on the contrary, it but seems to awake her. Without any doubts, the ending of the story contains powerful irony as well: Mrs. Mallard dies finding out that her husband is still alive and it is explained by joy that kills. It is clear for the reader that it definitely is not joy which provokes womans death. The phrase joy that kills itself can be seen as oxymoron, as these two notions are of the opposite meaning. As for the repetition, the fact that Mrs. Mallard has ad heart disease iswas repeated at the beginning and at the end of the text, creating a frame for the text. At the same time, the first mention of the problem serves as foreshadowing for the future event: telling about Mrs. Mallards weak heart the author preparesd the reader to possible consequences.
Therefore, Tthe Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin is considered one of the most important feminist texts, however, it is not simply feminist. First of all, it is the story of the desire, and need for freedom, and self-expression by every person in the world, no matter of which gender this person is.
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