Do you think the writer is realistic and credible in her description of the relationship between man and woman? Do you think the writer is realistic and credible in her description of the...

Do you think the writer is realistic and credible in her description of the relationship between man and woman?

Do you think the writer is realistic and credible in her description of the relationship between man and woman?

Asked on by adooon

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

While women of the upper classes had more extensive education than is often acknowledged (though certainly they were not welcomed to follow higher paths of learning at Cambridge and Oxford to greater avenues of contribution to society), their options for providing for themselves were profoundly limited. This is compounded by the fact that laws formally restricted the rights of property and ownership and business enterprise for women making them entirely dependent upon the men under whose guardianship they fell. Thus Mrs. Mallard's characterization and situation and conflict are an authentic "snapshot" of the world in which--and about which--Chopin wrote "The Story of an Hour."

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with the foregoing posts. I would simply call attention to a very interesting moment in the story -- the moment when Mrs. Mallard, reflecting on her new life after her husband's death, thinks that "There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe that they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature" (italics mine). The italicized phrase is significant. It implies that people of both sexes (or any gender) can try to impose their wills on others. While the story is rightly read as mainly a reflection on the oppression of women, Chopin shows her maturity as an artist and as a moral commentator by including the italicized phrase. That phrase suggests that her vision is not narrow or propagandistic but is all-encompassing.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I agree that the interpretation is credible and plausible. For women, there were little choices for any level of comfort in life without marriage and a husband to provide and manage affairs. The idea of a 'marriage of convenience' is as applicable today as it was then: the arrangement for the Mallard's is mutually beneficial and amicable. Also, the idea of freedom is a 'monstrous joy' to Louise - a guilty pleasure that she had obviously not contemplated until it was possible.

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I agree with the above posts.  There does not appear to be anything particularly wrong with the Mallards' relationship (however, I have had students question whether or not Brently was having an affair--where was he if not on the train?).  Also, Louise is not necessarily relieved that her husband is dead--she does cry and admits that she loved him and will be sad again at his funeral.  She only gradually becomes aware of the new life ahead of her, and this awareness presents her with possibilities that she never had before.  It's realistic and plausible.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Yes. Women in the Victorian Age did not have opportunities for education in many fields and employment in any profession, so they were restricted to finding husbands who would provide for them.  And, as such they were subjected to them and expected to be in charge of the domestic life of the family.  Thus, the relationship that Mrs. Mallard has with her husband is, indeed, realistic for the setting of "The Story of an Hour."  Mr. Mallard, too, is typical of Victorian husbands; that Louise Mallard loves him is evidenced in these lines from the story,

She knew that she would weep again when she was the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that the notion of how marriage can be an institution where the silencing of voice is present is a realistic one.  As previously mentioned, there is little wrong with the Mallards' marriage.  It's not as if one is physically or emotionally abusive of the other, or if there is some hollowness at the core.  Rather, Mrs. Mallard has been silenced, for the most part, as a woman was taken for granted in the institution of marriage.  The exercising of freedom, autonomy of voice, and sense of individual empowerment were not conditions of a woman's participation in marriage at the time.  Her initial sadness is offset by the reflection that with her husband's passing she might be able to exercise her voice and assert her own sense of identity in her own life.  This is not a reflection of a bad marriage, as much as one guided by convention and traditional interpretations of the good.  I do believe that this is something present in marriages even today, and something that lends credence to the retelling.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Yes, I believe "The Story of an Hour" is plausible and credible in what it reveals about relationships between marriage partners.

The relationship appears to be very much a normal one.  Nothing extraordinary is wrong with it.  If it involved abuse or something drastic, it might still be realistic, but it would represent a smaller percentage of actual marriages.  One assumes abuse is present in a minority of marriages, for instance, though it certainly occurs too often if it's occurring at all.  But the relationship in the story appears to be similar to the relationships most marriage partners have.

Any relationship involves compromise and give and take.  One should not doubt that a woman living 100 years ago would have to do more than her share of compromising and would feel that marriage is stifling.  In a country, the U.S., which is still so dominated by men that it is years away from even allowing women to vote, it is certainly plausible and credible that a woman should feel a sense of being set free in the position the wife finds herself in.  Any woman with intelligence and creativity and imagination must have felt what she feels in the story.  Any woman with a sense of healthy skepticism must have felt stifled by marriage 100 years ago in the U.S. 

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