In "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, what are details shown by Louise and others that help show what the roles of women were like at this time?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This excellent short story reveals many different aspects of the reality of married life as seen from the point of view of a woman at this time in history. I would want to start answering this question by refering to the opening paragraph, and the way that women seem to be naturally regarded as being weak and frail creatures. Clearly, this impression is compounded by the heart disease that we are told Louise Mallard is said to suffer from, but note how Louise is told by Josephine in "broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing." It appears that Louise, as a woman, is too frail and weak to be able to accept the simple truth of what occurred.

Also note the way that it is clear Josephine feels the need to have a strong man near her to support her and help cope with her sister's reaction: "Her husband's friend Richards was there, too, near her." Preumably this implies that a man's level-headedness and calmness are needed in the face of possible female emotion and lack of reason. Such details indicate the way that women were regarded as "the lesser sex" and weak objects that needed protecting and caring for by men. The opening of the story presents this image of women implicitly through its description of how the news of her husband's death was broken to Louise Mallard.

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The Story of an Hour

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