Gender Norms In The Story Of An Hour By Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour” is set in the late 1800s – a time when women were considered inferior to men. Women had traditional roles as wives and mothers. In this 19th century patriarchal society, Chopin shows us Louise Mallard, the main character, who does not comply with the female gender norms of the Victorian period. When Louise learns about the death of her husband, her reaction and the reaction of her sister and the doctor tell us a great deal about gender stereotyping during this time. Louise Mallard is described to us as “firm” and “fair. She exists in a time when women are classified as objects of beauty and property, and her heart trouble suggests that she is fragile. Louise’s initial reaction to the news of her husband’s death suggests that she is deeply saddened and grief stricken when she escapes to her bedroom. However, the reader is caught off-guard with Louise’s secret reaction to the news of her husband’s death because she contradicts the gender norm of the 19th century woman. Her contradiction to the stereotype / gender norm is displayed when she slowly reveals her inward…show more content…
She believes that Louise is very fragile because of her heart condition. As a result, she gently informs Louise of her husband’s death. When Louise locks herself in her bedroom, Josephine shows concern and worry for Louise because she believes she will make herself ill from extreme grief and keeping to herself. Josephine assumes Louise is highly emotional and distraught is reflective of typical Victorian female views on how women react and feel when faced with tragic news, especially news about the death of a husband. However, Louise contradicts the gender norm of Victorian society as she sits in her room “drinking the elixir of life” rather than grieving for her husband. She is engulfed with joy because she is happy to be free from
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