How are the views of marriage in Trifles and "The Story of an Hour" alike?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Both of these texts focus on the repressive way in which marriage can deny women true freedom and the ability to define themselves and give themselves self-agency. In Trifles, the figure of Mr. Wright, who is described as being "Like a raw wind that gets to the bone" is shown to have been the result of transforming the sweet and innocent Minnie Foster into the sad and lonely woman who is driven to desperation and kills her husband because she, like the bird that Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters have just found, has had the life choked out of her:

She--come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself--real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and--fluttery. How--she--did--change.

The identification of Minnie Foster with the bird deliberately focuses on the way in which marriage is presented as having the life choked out of you through a patriarchal society where women were at best patronised and demeaned.

In "The Story of an Hour," we can see precisely the same view of marriage presented, though perhaps in different ways. Although there was nothing fundamentally wrong with Mr. Mallard in the way that there was with Mr. Wright, still Mrs. Mallard experiences a tremendous sense of liberty when she receives the news of her husband's death:

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 hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature.

Marriage, according to Chopin, is a "powerful will bending" the will of another. Both texts therefore present marriage as a restrictive force that is so terribly constraining.

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