How does American realist Kate Chopin depict upper-class marriage at the turn of the 19th century? What does she suggest about relationships between married men and women?
In "The Story of an Hour," Chopin portrays the role of servitude in upper-class marriages and the effect that has on a woman's soul. In the story, Louise Mallard is told that her husband has died, and her primary emotion is one of relief. Finally, there is no one else to serve. Finally, she no longer has to bend her will to her husband's desires instead of pursuing her own. She has played the role of a good wife for so many years, always taking care of her husband's needs. When she thinks she is finally released from this role, she feels light:
Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.
Chopin suggests that simply because women fill the roles required of them in marriage does not mean that they are happy doing so. Many times, this means giving up on dreams of their own....
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