How is gender defined in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"?
In order to understand the gender issues present in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," it is important first to look at Chopin's life. Kate's husband died when she was thirty-one. Chopin had little money and six children to raise. When she was thirty-nine, she began writing—some poetry, but also short stories.
The stories center around the themes of class relations, relationships between men and women...
Kate lived in a male-dominated society where women were second-class citizens. Women were believed to be fragile creatures that needed a man in order to survive and be happy. Society saw...
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The loss of Mrs. Mallard's new freedom from her marriage is unbearable. This is not to say (though many readers might say it) that her marriage was miserable. The text explicitly says “she had loved him—sometimes.” The previous paragraph in the story nicely calls attention to a certain aspect of love—a satisfying giving of the self—and yet also to a most unpleasant yielding to force:
There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending her in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.
This is doubly important as to her testimony of her ability to live independently and the loss of love which is a binding relationship between people. Kate Chopin draws an accurate representation of a person's inability " to live for himself or herself.: