I have chosen to use Story of an Hour, written by Kate Chopin and The Necklace, written by Guy de Maupassant for this compare and contrast paper. My intentions are to show similarities as well as differences between these two pieces and provide comparison of the works to provide a deeper insight into the topic of this paper. The theme I find similar in these two pieces is greed: you should be happy with what you have. In both stories you have women that are not happy in their situations, seeming to always be wanting for more. While the stories are very different, they do have a similar message.
Dr. Emily Chen, PhD states:” that reading a literary text is part of a complex process that includes collaboration between the writer, the text, and the reader. Text is re-created every time someone new reads it, and it becomes, in the process, increasingly richer. Text is a stimulus that elicits responses from us based on our past experiences, our previous reading, our thoughts, and our feelings: the text acts on the reader and the reader interacts with the text”. (Chen, 2009). Each story, read by each person will most likely illicit a different view based on their life experience, mood, age and gender.
“Your environment and personal experiences influence your response to stories. Whether you are aware of it or not, the lens through which you envision a story is filtered by insights you have gained from family traditions, religious beliefs, and critical life issues. Thus, interpretations of a story vary based on the reader’s age and breadth of experience. Emotions affect conclusions drawn from stories. Interpretations differ from culture to culture. ”(Clugston, 2010). Reading each of these stories now, affect me differently than if I had read them ten, fifteen or twenty years ago.
The Necklace and Story of an Hour are both short stories set in about the same time period, the late 1800’s, in private residences. The Necklace is a story about a woman, Madame Loisel that is unhappy with her simple life as a clerk’s wife. She is always daydreaming about the finer things in life and the riches that she feels that she is missing out on. “She suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and every luxury. She suffered from the poverty of her dwelling, from the worn walls, the abraded chairs, the ugliness of the stuffs. ” (de Maupassant, 1884).
Madame Loisel’s husband, in an effort to try and bring her happiness, receives an invitation to a party with the elite townspeople. Still not happy because she did not have an appropriate dress to wear, Madame Loisel’s husband gives her the money he was saving for himself so she could go out and purchase a dress. Even then she is still not happy because she has no jewelry to wear with it. She asks her friend Madame Forrester to borrow her something appropriate and ends up borrowing a “diamond” necklace from her. Ultimately, the necklace is lost the night of the grand party.
Madame Loisel and her husband end up working themselves to death for the next ten years to pay off the debt they incurred in replacing the necklace, which ended up being a fake in the end. Their life as they once knew it was over. Story of an Hour is a short story featuring Louise Mallard, an unhappy housewife with a heart condition. In the story she learns of her husband’s death and within minutes goes from weeping uncontrollably to happy and joyful. “She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free! ” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. ” (Chopin, 1884).
Mrs. Mallard felt oppressed in her marriage, that her husband did not love her and found a sense of freedom from his passing. “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. ” (Chopin, 1884). Ultimately, Mr. Mallard did not pass in the accident and when he came through the door and she saw him, Louise passed right then. Each story features an unhappy woman as the main character.
Madame Loisel in The Necklace is unhappy with her financial situation, always fantasizing about the finer things in life. Louise Mallard in Story of an Hour is an unhappy housewife with a heart condition, feeling oppressed in her marriage. In the end, both women pay a price for their wants: Madame Loisel to be wealthy or seen as wealthy pays by having to sacrifice her life to work twice as hard to repay a debt. Louise Mallard wanting her freedom finally receives it when she hears her husband has been killed in an accident, only to lose it with her death as he actually walks in the door.
Foreshadowing is used in both these stories as well. Foreshadowing is described in our textbook as:”A technique a writer uses to hint or suggest what the outcome of an important conflict or situation in a narrative will be” (Clugston, 2010). Foreshadowing gives us some clues as to some of the events that will may possibly unfold in the stories. In The Necklace, the line “It was not I, madam, who sold this necklace. I only supplied the case. ” (de Maupassant, 1884) provides a small hint that the necklace may not in fact have been genuine diamonds.
In Story of an Hour, the simple fact that the opening line stated Louise Mallard had a heart condition I feel, provided a clue right away as to the fact she would die in the story. The line “someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. ” (Chopin, 1894), also gives a clue that she could be surprised enough to have her heart fail. “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, and the color that filled the air.
” (Chopin, 1894). This line, I feel, shows that Loise may even have felt her impending death. Possibly the reference in the line “But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air. ” (Chopin, 1894), could be a reference as to Jesus coming to take her to heaven. Irony takes place in both of these stories as well. Irony is defined in out textbook as: “A discrepancy or contradiction occurs between what is expected to happen and what actually happens in a situation (situation irony) or in an expressed statement (verbal irony).
” (Clugston, 2010). Irony is shown in The Necklace when Madame Loisel runs into Madame Forrester on the street. Her friend did not recognize her because she had aged so much from all the extra work she had to do to pay her debt. They have a conversation about the necklace and how she had lost it and replaced it, “I brought you back another just like it. And now for ten years we have been paying for it. You will understand that it was not easy for us, who had nothing. At last, it is done, and I am mighty glad. ” (de Maupassant, 1884) and Madame Forrester replies “Oh, my poor Mathilde. But mine were false.
At most they were worth five hundred francs! “(de Maupassant, 1884). Madame Loisel had the exact opposite of the life she had fantasized about. Irony is shown in Story of an Hour by the fact that Louise was so elated at the thought of her new found freedom that he started visualizing her future alone and thought “It was only yesterday she had though with a shudder that life might be long. ” Little did she know her life would end up shorter than she could imagine. Both of these stories represent death in the way that Madame Loisel and her husband’s life as they knew it died the night the necklace was lost.
Louise Mallard simply died, I feel, from seeing her freedom being taken away by her husband still being alive: her heart simply could not take it. She not only lost the freedom she so longed for when her husband walked through the door, death made it impossible for her to ever have that freedom. These stories hold differences as well. The Necklace is set in Paris and spans years while the Story of an Hour does not give an exact place but is most likely set near where the author lived in St. Louis, Missouri and only denotes one hour of time.
In The Necklace, Madame Loisel’s husband is always trying to make her happy, first by bringing her an invitation: “But, my dear, I thought you would be pleased. You never go out, and here’s a chance, a fine one. I had the hardest work to get it. Everybody is after them; they are greatly sought for and not many are given to the clerks. You will see there all the official world. “(de Maupassant, 1884) and giving her money to buy a dress. Even though Madame Loisel is unhappy with her financial situation, it is never implied that she is unhappy with her husband.
In Story of an Hour however, it is implied that Louise Mallard is unhappy in her marriage and she did not feel loved by her husband, “the face that had never looked save with love upon her”. (Chopin, 1894) nor did she love him, “And yet she had loved him—sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! ” (Chopin, 1894). I feel that the only time Louise Mallard is truly happy is when she thinks she finally has the freedom to do whatever she wants. Each of these stories has women represented in different ways, most likely because they were written by different gendered authors. Story of an Hour was written
from a female point of view and The Necklace was written from a male point of view. The time frame in which these stories were written is a significant factor in the style they were written. The late 1800’s was the beginning of the Women’s Movement. Many women longed for freedom, and men still viewed them as property. Kate Chopin was called a Liberationist during this time. Lewis Leary speaks of her writings in that “she wrote also of people (mostly women) caged by convention or lured toward freedom which brings at one time happiness, at another disaster or rebuff. ” (Leary, 1970).
He also discusses her personal views during this era. ”Ms. Chopin was in revolt against tradition and authority. She saw sex as something which could or could not be conjoined with love or marriage, and she daringly – how daringly for her time and place! – undertook to give the unsparing truth about woman’s submerged life. ” (Leary, 1970). In Story of an Hour, Louise Mallard is a woman who feels oppressed in her marriage and longs for freedom. In The Necklace, written from male point of view, portrays Madame Loisel as a greedy, materialistic woman worried about status and not happy with what she has.
“Since early times, women have been uniquely viewed as a creative source of human life. Historically, however, they have been considered not only intellectually inferior to men but also a major source of temptation and evil. In Greek mythology, for example, it was a woman, Pandora, who opened the forbidden box and brought plagues and unhappiness to mankind. Early Roman law described women as children, forever inferior to men. ” (WIC, 1994). Most men during this period felt women were inferior and their place was as a homemaker. They were considered the weaker sex and had few rights and Maupassant was no exception.
According to Karen Bernado “He enjoyed visiting brothels, and his easy familiarity with prostitutes is reflected in stories such as “Boule de Suif” — “Ball of Fat,” a quasi-endearing nickname for a voluptuous whore. He recognized how people can be brought down by vanity, a situation depicted in his famous story ‘The Necklace. ‘ And he was fascinated with humanity’s darker side, as we learn from his masterful character study of an effeminate military officer in “Mademoiselle Fifi. ” His lifestyle, however, was to prove de Maupassant’s undoing; he died insane — and far too young — from complications brought on by syphilis.
”(Bernardo, nd). He viewed women as nothing more than objects. Maupassant was “a classicist by his nearly exclusive study of the subject of man, concentrating on the rational man. ” (Moore, 1918). Some of the qualities credited to him are realism and impersonality. “Maupassant is a realist so long as, from the point of view of a detached observer. ” (Moore, 1918). I feel that a womans’ role in the 1890’s affected the way Maupassant wrote this story. The relationship between content, form and style in these two stories are similar in many ways.
Our textbook says: ”Stories also reflect culture. The term culture refers to common characteristics of a group or a region. Culture is never static; it is a changing phenomenon, constantly reconfigured by human behavior, language, laws, events, patterns, products, beliefs, and ideals. To put it simply, culture refers to a way of life, an ethos. Writers often reflect a particular culture through the setting of a story or the spirit of the characters’ lives—providing insight, for example, into Southern culture, post–World War I culture, or global culture.
In this way stories preserve culture: they freeze moments in time and create cultural awareness. ”(Clugston, 2010). I believe both of these stories reflect the culture of the late 1800’s, from very different viewpoints, male and female, but provide a similar morality lesson. Both are short stories and contain a set up, build up and payoff. Short stories have a plot with conflict–driven, tied–together actions and events, a setting, clear time frame, characters, point of view, a theme and features that include tone, irony, and symbolism.
Knowing or not knowing the terms presented in this paper does not help or hinder a personal connection someone may have with a particular piece. I know for myself, the personal message I received from these stories, was a reflection on my life and personal experiences. I see people ungrateful for what they have daily. I was one of those people once, a long time ago. When we long for things we do not have, it keeps us from seeing and appreciating what we do have. You get caught up in things, and become willing to lie, cheat, steal, to do whatever it takes to get what you want.
Imagine if Madame Loisel had just been content with being invited to the party and not worried about a dress and jewelry? Or what if she had just told the truth about losing the necklace? She would probably have not had to work the next ten years and been able to enjoy life. Socrates once said “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. ” The bible contains many parables about it as well and Proverbs 15:27 states “A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.
” As you can see, there are many similarities and differences between the short stories The Necklace and Story of an Hour. I feel one important message contained in these to be happy with what you have, because greed will get you in the end, and both characters paid a price for their greed. If Madame Loisel had been happy with her life as it was, her husband would have never felt the need to acquire the invitation to the party, which ended up costing them years of their lives as well as money. For the next ten years Madame Loisel had a life less than what she started with, a big contrast to the life she fantasized about.
Louise Mallard was unhappy in her marriage. Thinking she finally had her freedom when she thought her husband had been killed, she was overjoyed; only to have her heart give out when she found out her husband was still alive. We all should be careful what we wish for because we might just get it. References Chen PhD, E. (2009). The Reader-Centered Approach to Literature. Retrieved from http:/www. litguide. press. jhu. eduwww2. nkfust. edu. tw/~emchen/CLit/teach_reader- centered. htm Clugston, R. (2010). Journey into Literature.
Bridgepoint Education, San Diego. Groden, M. Kreiswirth, M. and Szeman, I. 2005-2012. The John Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Retrieved from http:// www. litguide. press. jhu. edu Leary, L. Kate Chopin, Liberationist? The Southern Literary Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Fall, 1970), pp. 138-144. Retrieved from JSTOR online Ashford University. Moore, O. The Romanticism of Guy Maupassant. PMLA, Vol. 33, No. 1 (1918), pp. 96-134. WIC, 1994. Womens’ History in America. Retrieved from http://wic. org Retrieved from JSTOR online Ashford University.