Men and Women's Relationship in The Story of an Hour

Categories: Short Story

The relationship between men and women presented in the short story “The Story of an Hour”, is that men dominated society. A Woman’s freedom was nonexistent. Throughout this short story, women are presented as powerless and dependent while men were considered to be superior. Women were tied down through marriage, such as, having been expected of doing as the man pleased without having any say in the relationship. Through a feminist critical perspective, this short story supports a patriarchal society that is presented though marriage and women’s lack of freedom.

During this period in time, men had dominated with power and control over women. Women were seen as weak and powerless, therefore it was assumed and expected of women to obey the husband. Louise whom had been married to Brently Mallard, was under her husband’s restraint since the words “I Do” uttered her mouth. In the text, Louise’s freedom was hidden and held back between the time of her marriage, up until news was received mentioning her husband’s death.

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Applying a feminist critical perspective clearly presents that women did not belong to themselves. They were a part of the husband and were under his authority. Applying the perspective clearly identifies a man’s abuse towards women, through power and control. Louise was gently informed of the news of her husband’s death, due to a heart condition. Louise sobbed and went up to her room alone.

She would have no one to follow her. She sat down an armchair and looked through an open window and could see the delicious breath of rain that was in the air and the countless number of sparrows that were twittering in the eaves.

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Her face spoke lines of repression and even a certain strength. She gazes off into the sky and has an intelligent suspension of thought. Applying a feminist critical perspective suggests the idea that Louise had realized all of the joy, happiness, and new life that now surrounded her, which was not apparent during the time of her marriage. This idea presents that Louise had a new outlook on life. There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. She didn’t know what it was but she felt it through the scents and colors that filled the air. She begun to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will. She let out the words “free, free, free!”, and felt terrified but calmly relaxed. Applying the perspective would suggest the idea that the scents and colors that filled the air, are a sign of joy and happiness in which is what she is trying to find and feel inside of her.

It is inferred that women were not supposed to feel or express themselves with joy towards a husbands suffering or loss in front of family and friends. During this period in time, it was considered inappropriate for a wife not to grieve over her dead husband. Given that men had been highly respected, a woman was to only express sadness for the death of their husband. Therefore, Louise goes to her room alone in order to truly express her feelings and thoughts without anyone seeing her or pass judgment towards her. The amount of respect men are given express the power they have over society. In turn, describing a patriarchal society. Louise begins to fear the joyful truth of realizing and accepting her freedom by trying to fight it back with her will. However, when the words “free” drifted out of her lips and into her mind, she experiences joy. She would now live for herself. Applying the feminist critical perspective makes it clear that women lived to please, obey and serve their husbands without having a say in the relationship. Women lived for their husbands and were stripped of their freedom through marriage. However, Louise would now have no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature. In the event of her husband’s death, she would no longer be tied down.

Through the feminist critical perspective, a patriarchal society is supported due to men having the assumption that a women’s role was to serve the man and become his property. With this intention, men had power over the women. From a feminist critical perspective, it is clear to perceive that her husband’s death was a release of freedom from her marriage. The text describes that at times, she did and did not love her husband. However, love had not mattered anymore because she was now free. Whether they loved each other or not, she would have still been his property. This restriction of freedom was no longer her cross to bear. The death of her husband would pave her a path for a new life. Louise whispers, “Free! Body and soul free!”. Keeping the feminist critical perspective in mind, the idea is given that her “body” is the physical property and the “soul” is her emotional and mental freedom. Provided that Louise suffered from a heart condition, her sister begged her to open the door and relax because for fear that she would make herself ill.
No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window. Through this open window, Louise cumulatively realized all the new opportunities, chances, and possibilities swarming in her mind. Applying the feminist critical perspective states that with a husband standing in the way of her freedom, these possibilities were just fantasies deemed as impossible. Men stood in the way of allowing women to live their own lives.

Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. Analyzing this with a feminist critical perspective suggest the idea that women focused on the husbands needs before anything else. With this in mind, it’s presented how much power men had over women which supports a male dominated society. Now that spring and summer days were all her own signifies that she would now live a life with no restrictions. To be a women and married meant you did not belong to yourself. Louise was and would always be his wife. Now that Mallard was dead, Louise belonged to no one and considered herself to be an independent women. As noted earlier, using the feminist critical perspective suggest the idea that women were tied down by marriage. A woman was to be at the husbands every beck and call. It is not her choice to agree or disagree with his wishes, orders, and commands.

A point over looked is the Irony presented in this short story. She breathes a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long. Before the death of her husband, she dreaded a long life. A life that she knew would feel miserable and unending. Yet with the death of her husband, she now prays for a longer life so that she can enjoy freedom. The irony is presented through her feelings of dreading a long life but now praying for one. Applying a feminists critical perspective on this idea supports a patriarchal society do to the fact that women would have rather have lived a shorter life when being in the control of a man, rather than live their whole life instead. In turn, men even had the power to alter a woman’s feelings towards living life. Analyzing the text though a feminist critical perspective reveals the truth about a woman’s suffering during this era, as well as demonstrating how men were greatly carried in society. Men viewed women as miniscule creatures that seemed to be weak and fragile, therefore not being able to have power or control over anything.

As a result, a women’s opinion and beliefs were usually disregarded. Louise had been taking in all of her new found freedom through the view of the outside window. Eventually, Louise opened the door due to her persistent begging. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of victory. When applying the Feminist critical perspective, it is clear that men held power and control because the author exaggerates Louise’s feelings towards having power by comparing it to a goddess’s. The association between a goddess and a man explains how much power men had, and the society that was based upon it. Little did Louise know that this unchained freedom was soon to be taken away. When Louise and her sister reached the first floor, a man entered the front door. The man who entered was indeed her husband whom was alive and well. When the doctors came they say she had died of heart disease- of the joy that kills. Based on the time period, the doctors were most likely males. The doctors believed she died of joy from seeing him alive. By assuming that she died of joy from his return supports my analysis of a patriarchal society which states how men had power and control over everything. Apparently, men thought women were so powerless and dependent, that she must have died from the shock and joy of realizing her husband returned. Thus, men believed they had all the power and controlled everything. Including death. When applying the feminist critical perspective, it’s clearly presented that women were given no freedom.

When Louise sees her husband alive, she becomes petrified and realizes that her freedom was taken away. Thus, resulting in shock and killing her due to her fragile heart condition. Not from joy. Through a feminist critical perspective, this short story supports a patriarchal society that is presented through marriage. The man is very powerful and controls everything, whereas women are seen as weak, powerless and dependent. Women have no say or rights in any decision making at all. A woman must be at the husband every beck and call without having a say in the relationship. Men are seen as powerful, superior and cruel while women suffer from an unhappy marriage. All of these ideas link to how this short story presents a patriarchal society Synopsis of “The Story of an Hour”

A woman named Louise Mallard whom suffers from a heart condition, lives an unhappy life due to the lack of freedom that is restricted from her through her marriage. The period in time of this story suggest the lack of independence women were given. News comes about a train accident involving her husband’s death. It was considered inappropriate to express her joy in front of a crowd, so she goes into her room alone and finally realizes that his death meant the release of her freedom. Louise feels relieved and joyful that no one would now be able to control her life besides herself. Louise mentions her having had and had not loved him. However, she does not care anymore because now she had freedom that was not presented to her during her marriage. Her sister begs her to relax due to her heart condition and rejoin her family and friends. When she returns from her room, a man entered the door. To clarify, her husband had never been in a car accident and was alive and well. Louise had died and when doctors came, concluded that she died from the joy of her husband’s return. However, she had not truly died of happiness, she had died of the shock in knowing her freedom has been taken away from her once again.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Men and Women's Relationship in The Story of an Hour. (2016, Apr 02). Retrieved from

Men and Women's Relationship in The Story of an Hour essay
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