Sexual Intercourse and Women Essay

Submitted By Christine-Kemper
Words: 1983
Pages: 8

Christine Kemper
Mrs. Lindsay
Freshman English II
September 29, 2014
America’s Earliest Suffragette
Kate Chopin was born in a time of struggle for all women. In the nineteenth century, a woman was considered property of whatever man was head of their family. However, Kate was lucky in that she had a very unorthodox childhood, considering the social conventions of her time. She was raised by three generations of independent and strong women: her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. All three ladies were widows, leaving Kate without any patriarchal influence. In a time when the only formal education most women received was tuned to music, art, fashion, and etiquette, Kate was educated at a convent that was renowned for the nuns’ infinite intelligence. Later, Kate was lucky in her own spouse in that he allowed her unheard of and vastly unpopular freedom to do as she pleased. When Kate was widowed at a young age, she sold her husband’s business and used her writing to support her children (Wyatt). It stands to reason then, that Kate believed women should be free to have control over their own lives, and wrote her heroines based on this theory. “Story of an Hour” is to date Kate Chopin’s most popular and successful short story, about a woman who discovers that she has been given a new lease on life immediately after she’s been told of her husband’s untimely death. The reason for this comes as no surprise. “Story of an Hour” represents all women, finding their own voice, in a time of emotional and sexual repression, and is still relevant to the strong, independent women of today. One thing to take into consideration was the state of marriage at the time that “Story of an Hour” took place. Nineteenth century marriages were marriages made of convenience. Families still arranged marriages to uplift their children in the face of society. Most marriages were not love matches then at all. It was a lucky marriage if both parties were happy. In those days women were expected to be submissive to their fathers and husbands and do as they were told, with no discourse to their own feelings. So it was that women were transferred in “ownership” from father to husband, with no time in between to explore her own wants and needs. I felt that from “Story”, this woman (Mrs. Mallard), who did have some love for her husband was sad in a way, but was more happy about having no one to answer to ever again. "There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself" (Chopin 15-16). An 18th century jurist, William Blackstone, said it best regarding Victorian women: “By marriage, the very being or legal existence of a woman is suspended, or at least incorporated or consolidated into that of the husband, under whose wing, protection, or cover she performs everything” (Offen). In regarding the laws and social conventions of this time, the popularity of Chopin’s heroine, Louise, is not difficult to understand. Women had to have been craving a strong and independent example to follow. In the 19th century, social conventions all around the world discouraged women from striking out on their own to be in charge of their own destinies. In “The Story of an Hour” it is easy to believe that though Louise Mallard cared about her husband, she was not in love with him enough to mourn too deeply or too long for him, even before she decides to sit alone in her bedroom: “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms” (Chopin 15). Mrs. Mallard then goes to her bedroom for a moment alone when she begins a battle within herself. She is trying to mourn her husband when unbidden thoughts of “freedom” come to her mind. It is very easy to agree with S. Selina Jamil when she states in her analysis “The power of her emotions conquers the force of conventionality” (Jamil 216). This means that though the…