How to write a 2 page expository essay on the thesis :Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" explains the nature (features) of false enlightenment.' Concerning freedom/independence and the...

How to write a 2 page expository essay on the thesis :Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" explains the nature (features) of false enlightenment.' Concerning freedom/independence and the consequences of inaccurate/idealistic perspectives.

Using an article by Suzi Parker on 'free speech in schools' to show how it helps us understand the false sense of freedom and its consequences. 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would not call Louise Mallard's awakening of freedom (in "The Story of an Hour") an example of false enlightenment. It is, in fact, an example of legitimate enlightenment. She experiences a real awareness of a freedom she has never experienced as a woman (as an adult and perhaps for the first time in her life). This awareness of new knowledge is a definition of enlightenment. The fact that her husband's return seems to take back that new freedom does not negate her enlightenment. She now has the enlightened knowledge of her freedom; it does not leave when Mr. Mallard returns. This is what kills her: now, with the knowledge of that freedom, she is devastated at the thought of losing it. 

That being said, in the broader historical perspective on women's rights, Louise would have been naive (in 1894 when the story was published) to expect all the freedoms that men have/had. Only in this sense is her idealism 'inaccurate.' And although Louise's death suggests that she 'shouldn't have gotten her hopes up,' this is not the take away lesson of the story. The broader lesson is how empowering freedom can be. Louise is devastated by her husband's death, but even in that grief, her new found freedom is equally enlightening and empowering. Louise's idealism/hope is not to blame; the blame is on the status quo and the cultural rules which have inhibited her (women's) freedom in the first place. 

Again, Louise's enlightenment is not false. But you could argue that her idealism is too optimistic, given the time and culture of the late 19th century. Likewise, Parker argues that free speech is not an automatic, absolute right; in other words, we still have a way to go. This article deals more broadly with free speech whereas "The Story of an Hour" deals more specifically with women's freedom. 

Connecting the story and the article with the theme of a 'false sense of freedom,' the conclusion is that the respective struggles for women's rights and free speech are not over. At the end of the story, Louise is devastated (to death) at the idea of losing her freedom. In many, or all, cases, one could argue that the loss of free speech is also devastating on all social levels. In general, the consequence of false freedom is the illusion of progress. 

If women or society in general are promised freedoms but not really granted them, then they are false freedoms. If we are allowed to speak out on an issue (at any age), but then that right begins to be limited by what is considered "lewd," when does that limiting stop? Then the consequence becomes one in which a governing body gets to determine who gets to have free speech . . . and when. This consequence directly relates to Louise's predicament. She gets to have certain freedoms - only when she is released from her subservient role to her husband. In the story and the article, a woman and students are stripped of their freedoms (to different degrees); a general statement is that they were not as free as they thought they were. In this sense, Louise and the activist students were operating under a 'false consciousness.' What this means is that they thought they had certain rights/freedoms, but in fact those rights/freedoms were not absolute: they could be limited, taken away for any number of ideological or political reasons. 

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The Story of an Hour

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