What are the similarities between the women in "Thank You M'am" and "The Story of an Hour"?  I have to write a 5 paragraph essay.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“Thank You M’am” and “The Story of an Hour” both tell the story of strong women who act differently than they are expected to.

In each story, irony is used to show us a strong woman who defies our expectations of how society expects a woman to behave.  A woman is a victim, held down by circumstances and demonized if she is not lady-like and fragile.  Yet in these two stories, we see glimpses of women who are strong, and defy convention.

In “Thank You M’am,” Roger tries to rob a woman only to learn she refuses to be a victim.  Not only that, she does not allow him to continue to be one either.  She takes him home, makes him a meal, and gives him a lecture, but not the one he is expecting .

After a while she said, "I were young once and I wanted things I could not get." … "I have done things, too, which I would not tell you, son—neither tell God, if he didn’t already know.

Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is different in every respect from the victim.  She is strong.  She sees Roger as a boy who needs guidance, not a as a common street thug.  This proves that she is strong, and caring.  She looks out for her neighborhood. 

In “The Story of an Hour,” Louise learns that her husband is dead.  Her sister thinks that her weak heart cannot take the shock.  In reality, Louisa is relieved that she is free.  Even though she loved her husband, she felt chained to domesticity.

"Go away. I am not making myself ill." No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.

She is not the weakened housewife and fair maiden they expect her to be.  In fact, when she dies because her heart is weak, it is not from the shock of seeing her husband alive because she is overjoyed at seeing him alive.  It is because she has lost the freedom she so quickly gained.

When writing an essay about these two stories, you could write about how they each use irony to portray a woman in an unexpected role.  Each woman is expected to be a victim, but she finds herself taking charge of her circumstances instead, and demonstrates strength and purpose.

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Langston Hughes's 1958 short story "Thank You, Ma'am," Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is an independent woman who knows her own mind.  She has a clear understanding of right and wrong and readily admits that she has sometimes been on the "wrong" side when she is schooling Roger. 

Mrs. Louise Mallard in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," written in 1894, is similar to Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones in that she carries her husband's last name and the title "Mrs." though neither woman looks to a husband for self-definition.  Louise has an hour in which she is able to think for herself, plan a life spent independently, and reflect on how she could live authentically. Luella is living a life on her own terms, and that is what Louise aspires to. 

Both women are honest; Hughes gives voice to Luella's confession that she has not always made good choices, while Louise's confession that she has not always loved her husband takes place only in her mind. 

Though sixty-four years separate these stories, neither of the two protagonists display helplessness in the face of adversity or a desire for anyone to intervene on her behalf.

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The Story of an Hour

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