Occasionally people will run across a couple who do not seem to have that marriage everyone desires to possess. In many cases these relationships are unhealthy because they feel imprisoned in a marriage they simply do not want. In both Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and Gail Godwin’s “A Sorrowful Woman,” this is what seems to be the reality for these two couples.
At the time these stories are set in, both women are expected by society to have a healthy, loving relationship with their husband and family. They were meant to take care of the household and that is just the way it was – no questions about it. There was no escaping the reality they were in. I believe, because of how society viewed a marriage at the time, they had to suffer through the circumstances they were in to please society. I think both women loved their family and husbands especially, but when it comes down to it, they clearly did not want to be married. Both women sought out freedom from their husbands and children, but only Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” gained that freedom (even though she technically did not have it.) In “The Story of an Hour,” Chopin described Mrs.
Mallard’s desire for freedom in symbolism. She wrote, “There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met piled one above the other in the west facing her window.” The clouds are the interference from freedom and the blue sky is the freedom. Mrs. Mallard wanted the patches of blue sky so badly! She spent much of her time agonizing over the marriage she was trapped in. The mother in “A Sorrowful Woman” did the exact same thing by isolating herself from her husband and child in hopes of a glimpse at freedom. The woman was so depressed about her life and the fact that she had a family that “the sight of them made her so sad and sick she did not want to see them ever again.” Due to her physical abandonment of them, the husband was forced to take over the motherly roles. This is where the two stories differ. Mrs. Mallard never needed or wanted her husband to take care of everything like the other woman.
Their level of emotional distress was different; therefore, two different stories. It is hard to say why Mrs. Mallard did not show as many signs of emotional distress as the other woman, but perhaps it was just their personalities. Maybe Mrs. Mallard held up better under pressure and could handle her situation. It may be that the woman actually had a mental illness causing her to naturally shy away from her family and not have as much control over her life. It is hard to say, but in any case, they both had the same emotional distress coming from an unwanted marriage. It always seemed as though each woman loved her husband, but was not in love with him. I believe these two women were merely caught in the wrong time period and had to suffer through their life due to society’s expectations.
Courtney from Study Moose
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