Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield are two short stories that offer an ideal basis for comparing womens literature. Chopin story, published in 1894, document the dilemmatic complicate reaction of woman when she learns of the death of her husband. Miss Brill is about an elderly and lonesome woman who comes into term with the fact that he isolated lifestyle is taking its toll on her. This essay compares and contrasts the two tests in order to find out whether they are contemporary with respect to changing the role of women.
Louise Mallard, the main character in The Story of an Hour, is a woman suffering from heart trouble. When Brently, her husband is apparently killed in a railroad accident, she must be informed of the news cautiously. It is her sister Josephine who breaks the news to her, doing it as gently as possible. Josephine and a friend of Brently called Jonathan make a rather reasonable assumption that this is potentially devastating news capable of threatening Louises weak heart. All in all, the story adopts an interesting side plot after Louise is seen becoming aware and acknowledging the freedom that will enjoy in absence of her husband. Towards the end, it is revealed that Brently hadnt been in the railroad accident and is in fact still alive. Upon finding out this, Louise collapses and dies of a heart attack that the doctor says was triggered by happiness.
In Miss Brill, the main character is an elderly and lonely female who lives a rather solitude life in Paris, France. She earns a living teaching English teacher, and has a mundane, static lifestyle that appears to follow the same routine day in day out. For example, she goes to a certain park every other Sunday, sits on the same seat every time, and listens to the same bad playing. The storys narrator presents it in a way that the reader gets an idea of how pathetic her life is. Miss Brill seems to be attempting to live a life of a lie and fantasy in order to give her protection from the seemingly harsher aspects of her existence. One day, she comes into terms with this reality when she hears other people make a nasty remark about her. it is through these remarks that it eventually dawns to her that she is getting old and solitude in her fantasy life, and that the world tends to be antagonistic to people like her.
Given Louise reaction to the news that her husband has died, it can be seen that The Story of an Hour is a contemporary text that examines the changing role of women in the society. At the time Chopin was writing the narrative, females were often downgraded by males within the family and community in general. A good example of this was seen in the institution of marriage, whereby a wife was under the control of her husband. Married women did not have the independence and freedom that they would have yearned for as they were expected to live lifestyles dictated by their spouses. Hence, when she hears that her husband has passed away, Louise can help but be overwhelmed by the thought of freedom presented by this new situation.
On the surface, Chopins narrative appears to be complex because, on the surface, the main character seems to be happy with the fact that her husband is dead. However, this happiness is not exactly genuine because she loved Brently and had not finished mourning for him. All in all, his death has given her the opportunity to savor and enjoy something that had for a long time been denied to her: freedom and independence. As soon as Louise realizes what is in store for her, she is ecstatic and goes on to utter and relish the word free again and again. It is worth noting that Chopin never mentions any specific offenses that Louises husband has done against her. This appears to imply that married can be daunting to both the wife and husband. Her story seems to mirror the dilemma and wishes that most females have about marriage. The union is somewhat demeaning to women since it restricts their independence and freedom. Events in The Story of an Hour mirror the desires of these females as it highlights how one of them reacts to the opportunity presented by the passing away of a spouse.
In Miss Brill, it is an unpleasant social encounter that makes the main character figure out what her isolated lifestyle meant or had in store for her. This incidence appears to act as a wakeup call for aging women to come into terms with the changing society. Miss Brill goes to her weekly concert and occupies her usual seat. She does not give much attention to the music being played: just what other people are doing. It is apparent that her main aim for attending the concert is find out what is going on in the lives of those around her. As a matter of fact, she is proud of the fact that she is able to eavesdrop on what other people are saying without other people finding out. Such a situation gives her an escape from her lonely and pathetic existence that involves little or no interactions with others.
When sitting in the theatre, Miss Brill overhears a nasty remark directed towards her by younger couple. The man questions why she attends the concert at all given that no one is interested in her. While this demeaning charade could have continued for a while, the couples female makes it even worse by breaking into a derisive giggling laughter that only adds in salt to injury. Katherine Mansfield then offers a brief summary of what transpires after Miss Brill goes back to her pathetic home. All what the reader gets to learn is that she passes by her usual bakers shop to buy a slice of cake. Back inside the house, it sinks to her that the world is not a nice place for aging and lonesome females.
In conclusion, it can be seen that Story of an Hour and Miss Brill have something in common in that they explore the changing role of females in the society. In Kate Chopins story, the main character suffers a heart attack after realizing that her husband is not dead as she had been made to believe. It is clear that her demise was not because her husband had survived, but because she had lost the newly found and long-cherished freedom. On the other hand, Mansfields character learns the hard way of the importance of interacting with others in life. Living a solitary life, especially as an elderly woman, has no place in the modern society.
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