Women's Roles in 'Story of an Hour' & 'A Rose for Emily'

Throughout history, women have been treated as second class citizens or not important for as long as history can go back. The Napoleonic Code said that women were controlled or enslaved by their husbands and could not freely do what they wanted with their own will without the permission of their husband. This will show how it is evident in the ‘Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin and “A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner. In both stories, they use a ton of literary elements, for example, foreshadowing, symbolism, and significant meaning of the titles are essential in bringing the reader to an unexpected or ironic conclusion.

The background of both authors is extremely relatable because of where they were born, which was from the South, we can guess how they could describe the situations and problems that they faced such as political and social problems especially for women at that time. The story revels and shows why Chopin wrote how women were to be ‘seen but not heard’.

This little phrase had a big impact, because they were there, living breathing and etc. but they were just doing that, without being noticed. ‘The wife cannot plead in her own name, without the authority of her husband, even though she should be a public trader, or no communicant, or separate in property.’ (Kreis 1) This is the Code Napoleon used that shows women have no right and position at that time to do what they pleased. After World War II, some men were going to war and left the women.

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This allowed the women to get the freedom that they had desired, since they needed the freedom in order to survive with no men being their to take care of them.

Chopin’s stories are very modern in many ways even though they were written about two hundred years ago. Chopin says “. Does not always find that marriage necessarily requires that a wife be dominated by their husband,'(Oklopcic 19) and she was trying to show that women can get along just fine without having man interfere. It was an important time for women, because it allowed them to work and survive on their own. The story shows the way women are treated in some relationships and in society. ‘Her concern with women’s place in society and in marriage, her refusal mix guilt with sexuality'(Oklopcic 29).

Late eighteen hundred were rough times for women and there were not options like divorce back then, unlike now how we have many choices for divorce. Through Mrs. Mallard, we were able to see the social repression that women felt and went through at that time. In this story there is a lot of repression, Chopin said ‘They were locked into marriages’ which meant they were either forced into a marriage or got into a marriage they regretted. Luckily Mrs. Mallard says her husband ‘never looked at her save with love’ (Chopin 34).

The Story of an Hour, Chopin referred to the character as Mrs. Mallard an appendage of Brently Mallard. She was referred to as Louise which is her first name. Chopin was trying to show that marriage makes women repressed and ‘bends the will’ (35). Not allowing women to have their rights and takes more from them, assuming that Brently Mallard was still a honorable man because he never looked upon the wife with Anything but love from the beginning. She knows that her husband loved her more than anything, but that is never going to be enough for her to feel any love from him as it says, ‘and yet she loved him, sometimes'(34). Chopin does not seem to think that it is the husband’s plan to ‘bend’ her will but to make their marriage successful and to make her happy.

Mrs. Mallard was breaking the lens which means that she broke what has tied her to her husband. It seems that she only lived for one hour during her whole life when she knew that her husband was dead. She did not mean that literally, but figuratively, because of her emotions. She went to her room and gazed out the ‘open window’ (Chopin 33). The language is foreshadowing the ironic women moment of happiness that she had felt at that time in her life of being free. Free from her chains that were holding her down to live her life. When Louise Mallard found out that her husband had never been on the train and shows up at the door of their house had taken all the joy from her and as to what the doctors would say ‘the joy that kills.’ This ending shows in a lot of meaning how women were held down and of women at that time were really intense that it could make a woman die when they lose their freedom.

William Faulkner’s story ‘A Rose for Emily’ reveals the life of Emily Grierson who lives an empty life of not leaving her home for over ten years, while also living in a state of madness and pain. The extent of Emily’s madness is finally revealed at the end of the story, where it is found that she has been living with the body of her dead boyfriend for years, sleeping next to him. ‘ A Rose’ in the title of the story gives significant meaning that represented Death in this story.

Faulkner also uses effective use of symbolism to express the theme, with two of the important symbols being death and taxes. Death features a symbol in the form of Emily’s own death, the death of her father and the death of Homer. However, every one of these deaths are ones that Emily is not able to comply with. Another part of the story that illustrates Emily’s inability to accept death is when she had the poison. When the druggist asked her what she wants it for, ‘ Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back on order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and got the arsenic and wrapped it up’ (Faulkner 33). It shows how by doing so, she gets rid any hope that she has for getting married and having children because of the pressure that is put on from her dad which was stopping her from a relationship with men. This same inability to accept the realities of the world are symbolized by her not wanting to pay taxes. In the meeting where the major tries to make her, Emily keeps repeating ‘I have no taxes in Jefferson’ (Faulkner 30).

Emily represents the Southern women that acted at that time even though she was in the process of becoming a different person then she once was. ‘ she has stood as an embodiment of an older ideal of Southern woman-hood though in her later year she has grown obese, bloated, and pale as dough.’ (Oklopcic 34) It makes it clear that by avoiding Faulkner’s intentional narrative limitations, we can discover the true depth of Emily’s liberation such as she lives in accordance with her desires, thereby refusing to answer to others. She tried to clear herself from the gossip, judgments, and overt intrusions of small minds in a small southern town.

Symbolism is also a way to show description of a picture of Emily’s father, ‘Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a straddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door’ (Faulkner 32) which is illustrative on the lack of control in Emily’s life. A slender figure in white represents a vulnerable version and her position in the background which also signifies subordination. In difference, Emily’s father assumes the dominant position and horsewhip which denotes power and control. Her father’s controlive nature, dominance and pride had destroyed her chances for marriage, because of who and how he acted. Through the murder of Baron, Emily can be viewed as trying to back off her life. She was afraid that under Baron’s hands she will suffer the same pain that she encountered from her father when she lived with him.

Even though the neighbors are curious about Homer who was missing in that period; they cannot do anything about it. The reason for this is when they excuse her for trying to keep the body of her father from when he passed. The foreshadowing of Homer’s death. ‘We did not say she was crazy then we believed she had to do that we remembered all the young man her father had driven away, and we know that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robber her, as people will (Faulkner 77).

These two characters had the same repression that they got from their life as a woman from young ages to the end. Although, they end up by getting a unusual life such as Emily who turned into a murderer, killing her own boyfriend and Louise Mallard dead after living her ‘real life’ for one hour, who died of a heart disease when she actually found out that her husband was alive and well.

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Women's Roles in 'Story of an Hour' & 'A Rose for Emily'. (2022, Apr 23). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/comparison-of-role-of-women-in-story-of-an-hour-by-kate-chopin-and-a-rose-for-emily-by-william-faulkner/

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