Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Patriarchal Society and the Feminine Self in Kate Chopins Story of an
Patriarchal Society and the Erasure of the Feminine Self in The Story of an Hour Critical readings of Chopins works much note the tension between female characters and the society that surrounds them. Margaret Bauer suggests that Chopin is concerned with exploring the dynamic interrelation between women and men, women and patriarchy, horizontal women and women (146). Often, critics focus on the importance of conflict in these works and the way in which Chopin uses gender constraints on two levels, to open an avenue for the discussion of feminine identity and, at the same time, to critique the time-honored society that denies that identity. Kay Butler suggests that entrapment, not freedom, is the source of Chopins inspiration, for she is primarily concerned with exploring the way in which gender roles deny identity she continues yet without the entrapment, the question of identity, even the inspiration to write about identity, wouldnt exist (18). Chopins The Story of an Hour m ost poignantly balances the dual focus of her work, describing the incipient awakening of Mrs. Mallard, and thereof exploring the possibility of feminine identity, even while, ultimately, denying the fruition of such an experience. Like all of her works, this short story reacts to a specific historical framework, the Cult of True Womanhood, in its indictment of patriarchal culture. As Barbara Welter notes, in the nineteenth century, a women judged herself and was judged by her husband, her neighbors, and society by the attributes of a True Woman which included, especially, purity and domesticity (372). The conceit of purity, because it suggested that women must maintain their virtue, also, paradoxically, denied the... ... Story of an Hour. CLA Journal 16 (November 1994) 59-64. Bauer, Margaret. Chopin in Her Times Critical Essays on Patriarchy and Feminine Identity. Durham Duke UP, 1997. Butler, Kay. Freedom and Desire The beginning of Awakening in the Works of Kate Chopin. Cri tical Interpretations Kate Chopin. Ed. Harold Blooming. New York Chelsea House, 1989. 14-32. Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter, et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Lexington Heath, 1994. 644-46. Papke, Mary E. Verging on the Abyss The Social manufacturing of Kate Chopin and Edith Wharton. New York Greenwood P, 1990. Welter, Barbara. The Cult of True Womanhood 1820-1860. The American Family in the Social Historical Perspective. Ed. Michael Gordon. New York St. Martins P, 1978. 372-92.