How would I compare "Girl" and "The Story of an Hour" related to feelings of freedom?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an excellent topic to compare and contrast using these two texts. However, I would argue that there is little notion of any sort of female freedom conveyed in either text. "Girl," for example, is basically a diatribe from a mother to a daughter containing a huge long list of instructions concerning the role of a woman in that culture. For example:

Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the colour clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don't walk barehead in the hot sun; cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil...

And so the list continues. The notion of a very restricted gender role for women is created by this repeated direction. When the daughter tries to answer back, she is shouted down very quickly, and we can see in the final sentence of this story that she lives in a culture where sexual deviance can be easily assumed if you are not careful.

"The Story of an Hour" is slightly different in the way that it presents a woman who finds her freedom after the news of the death of her husband. As she contemplates her new life alone, she is struck by an incredible feeling of release and invigorating freedom:

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 which which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.

However, ironically, having savoured this freedom, the shock of finding her husband safe and well kills Mrs. Mallard, presenting an overall picture of female oppression in her culture.

Thus I would argue that what unites these two excellent stories is the lack of freedom that women are able to have in their respective cultures.