Does the protagonist in "Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin meet society's expectations?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fact that Louise Mallard does abide by the societal expectations bestowed upon her as a female by a male-dominated society is what constitutes the central problem of "The Story of an Hour".

Louise Mallard complies with what is expected of her by marrying, tending to the household, by playing the role of the obedient wife, and by presumably representing in every way the ideal of the perfect wife.

The way in which she does NOT comply with her expectations is that women in that situation were thought to be blind lovers of their husbands: they were supposed to be their husband's biggest fans and lovers, putting the men of the household in an even higher position than society itself would place them. This was not the case with Louise. In fact, so much miserable she feels in her marriage that even her heart has been perhaps psychosomatically affected by the lacklustre in her life.

However, we as readers know that she had no other option. Society did not consider the wants and needs of women. Hence, whether she was miserable or not is not for society to fix, but for Louise to accept and live with. This is why, when Brently was suspected dead, Louise felt a chance to re-capture her identity:

There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.

Therefore, we find in Louise a silent rebel who silently rejoiced in the possibility of her husband's death because her condition as a woman in her society was literally killing her softly.  

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The Story of an Hour

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