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Feminist Perspectives in a Story of an Hour A Woman Far Ahead of Her Time by Ann Bail Howard discusses the nature of the female characters in Kate Chopins novels and short stories Howard suggests that the women in Chopins stories are longing for independence and feel torn between the feminine duties of a married woman and the freedom associated with self-reliance Howards view is correct to a point but Chopins female characters can be viewed as more radically feminist than Howard realizes Rather than simply being torn between independent and dependant versions of her personality The Story of an Hours Mrs Mallard actually rejoices in her newfound freedom and in the culmination of the story the position of the woman has actually been elevated above that of the man suggesting a much more radically feminist reading than Howard cares to persue Much of what Howard has to say about Chopins protagonists is appropriate Her criticism operates from the standpoint that marriage said Chopins world was the goal of every womans life service to her husband and her children her duties passionlessness and submission her assumed virtues selflessness her daily practice and self sacrifice her pleasure 1 Mrs Mallard definitely lives in a world where these gender values abound Chopin for example describes Mrs Mallards face as one whose lines bespoke repression 439 This is obviously a direct reference to the submission Mrs Mallard has had to yield up to the patriarchy thus far She has always had a 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 440 Her husbands will is described as a burden Mrs Mallard has had to shoulder and her critique of this burden suggests her own resentment of its existence When Mrs Mallard is finally offered the opportunity to throw off the burdens of marriage and accept a new life of independence
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