Gender Roles / Marriage
ENG125: Introduction to Literature (GSH1315D)
Instructor: Steven Ryan
April 29, 2013
GENDER ROLES / MARRIAGE
Gender Roles / Marriage The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Story of an Hour share many a like aspects and several characteristic. The story line in these two stories exposes the love within a relationship of marriage but in different ways. Both these stories details some of the trials and tribulations of a union in marriage, such as the want of independence and excitement; experiences that a marriage can inadvertently inhibit. Walter Mitty and Mrs. Mallard displayed great courage, wisdom and respect for their marriage. They both sought freedom and independence from their marriages in their own way. The two gentlemen also tended to share a bond from their wives being who they are as women and being concerned about their husbands well being. The men in these literary works are similar because they both have wonderful women in their life that cares about them very much. I argue that the relationships in these two stories are very similar when it comes to the illustration, theme and style. Both of these stories illustrate some of the demands or commitments that arise out of marriage, but they both also show how at times; the only means by which lust or necessity can be satisfied or experienced, is within the confines of one’s mind. Additionally, both works illustrate a sense of imprisonment that can arise out of marriage. Mitty’s imprisonment is illustrated through his daydreaming; where as Mrs. Mallard’s is illustrated through her emotions and reactions. Thurber’s central character, Mr. Walter Mitty, who will be referred to, as Mitty is an ordinary man whom constantly daydreams of being exceptional. His daydreaming clearly illustrates Mitty’s needs for excitement, excitement that has been inhibited by his wife. As Walter goes through a day of ordinary tasks and errands, he retreats into a series of romantic fantasies, each brought on by some routine reality. As he drives his car, he imagines he is commanding "a Navy hydroplane"
GENDER ROLES / MARRIAGE through a terrible storm. When he rides past a hospital, he imagines he is a world-famous surgeon saving a VIP's life. When he hears a newsboy shouting about a trial, he imagines he is a defendant being interrogated in the courtroom. As he waits for his wife to finish at the hairdresser's, Walter sees pictures of German plane and imagines he is a British pilot willing to sacrifice his life for his country. Lastly, as Mitty waits outside against a wall for his wife to buy something in a drugstore, he fantasizes that he is a bold and brave man about to be shot by a firing squad. The story ends with the inscrutable Walter Mitty awaiting this romantic death. Mrs. Mallard’s is illustrated through her emotions and reactions. An intelligent, independent woman, Louise Mallard understands the “right” way for women to behave, but her internal thoughts and feelings are anything but correct. When Ms. Mallard sister tells her that Brently her husband has died, from a train accident Louise sobs hysterically rather than feeling detached, as she knows many other women would. Her violent reaction immediately shows that she is an emotional, demonstrative woman. She knows that she should grieve for Brently and fear for her own future, but instead she feels joyfulness at her newfound independence. Louise is not cruel and knows that she’ll cry over the death of her husband Brently when the time comes. But when she is out of others’ sight, her private thoughts are of her own life and the opportunities that await her, which she feels have just brightened considerably. Alone in her room, her heart races, and her whole body feels warm. She spreads her arms open, symbolically welcoming her new life. “Body and soul free!” she repeats to herself, a statement that shows how total her new independence really is for her. Only