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Kate Chopin (1851-1904) did a story that gets into the reader's mind and moods. Freedom is a pleasure that is extremely forbidden, and none should think about it in public. Despite its shortness, the story's every word has a truest sense of meaning and plays a role in making it complete. The protagonist in this story is Mrs. Mallard or Louise who has a problem with her heart. Her husband, Brently Mallard, passes on, and the news have to be delivered to her in one of the gentle most manners due to her fragile heart (Berkove 152). Louise's sister, Josephine and Richards, a friend of Brently, delivers the news.
Both Richard and Josephine are unsure of how to break the news to Louise considering her fragile heart. Louise breaks down in grief upon hearing the news and retreats into her bedroom to think of her newfound freedom in privacy. She prays for a long life so that she can savor the fruits of being free only to be called by her Josephine. After getting out, Brently Mallard opens the door and gets in; Louise screams upon seeing her husband and passes on due to the enormous joy of getting and loosing freedom (Jamil 220). This essay illustrates the causes the alienation that the Louise feels during her married life.
Louise feels alienated in her marriage. Her main source of alienation is culture-driven whereby women give in to the decision of man. In many marriages, the man is considered the head of the household. Their decision and action is usually final; thus, the woman feels like the second party that is very dependent on man. This makes a woman feel like she is chained to the other party or the husband by religious vows or society. The other source of alienation is religion especially Christianity. Most religions often put the man at the head. If something good comes from a family, the man is appraised but, if it is bad, the woman is reprimanded.
Religion somehow represses the freedom of a woman. A man can get out and engage in illicit behavior while the wife is at home; being faithful and waiting. If she discovers, the woman is told to forgive but, if it is the woman who engaged in illicit behavior, the man could threaten death, divorce or anything. This uneven ground is the source of estrangement for most women like Louise who are in marriage or trying to respect and uphold the institution of marriage.
In this story, the perception of status greatly affects the behavior of Louise. Although she is estranged in her marriage, she cannot express herself in public. She has to pretend to be grief-stricken and has to retreat into privacy to think about her newfound freedom. Status is a thing that is created and imposed by society against the will of man. Louise stays in her marriage because she fears how society will look at her. She cannot walk out on her marriage to be free because she innately considers society.
She cannot say exclaim with joy upon receiving the news of her husband's death because this will be contrary to society's expectations. Josephine and Richard also try to do what society expects of them; delivering the news in the softest manner possible (Berkove 153). As Brently walks in, Richard tries to shield Louise from seeing her husband in order to protect her fragile heart fro getting a heart attack. All these characters try tot live by the status that has been set by society and not by their own jurisdictions.
In this story, Louise plays the role of loss of freedom in marriage. Josephine and Richard play the role of society in the story. They deliver news and somehow check if Louise has received the information and reacted in accordance to how society states. The presence of Richard and Josephine is a representation of society, and they force Louise to retreat into her bedroom to think about her newfound freedom. This implies that, to act against the expectation of society is a thing that can only be done in private.
The metaphor "...delicious breath of rain in the air, peddler crying his wares, clouds piled one above the other..." refer to the taste of independence that comes with the death of a spouse (Jamil 217). This is very common in the popular culture since according to the wedding vows it is "...till death does us part." This implies that Louise is free!
Relationship problems in Louise's marriage make her wish for the taste of freedom. It is obvious that, in marriage, there has to be compromise, and the "looser" is always the wife. Loss of freedom in marriage is what makes everything to go wrong. However, society and family are ever on pronging into the marriage to see that the people stay married. This is what makes many people estranged because almost everyone wants the marriage to "work" contrary to personal wish.
Louise somehow celebrates the death of her husband. Most people especially family could label this as opting for the wrong path. Death is not something that people wish for and enjoying the freedom that comes with the death of a spouse is seen as very wrong in society. The enjoyment reflects relationship problems that were in the marriage before one spouse died. Josephine and Richard act as representations of society. They try to protect Louise from reality that her husband is alive which is wrong. I sympathize with Louise because of the path she has chosen. Although she celebrates her loss, she should know that life without companionship is empty and hard. At times, ever person needs comfort, which is a tonic in the ever stressing life.
Society and its representatives like religion and the institution of marriage is faulted in this story. Religion plays the role of "keeper," and shapes values and norms. With the help of close family and friends, marriages are coerced to stay even when they are failing as people bid their time and wait for the death of their partner. In this story, the irony is that the gain and loss of freedom cause too much" joy" until the protagonist, Louise dies.
There is a conflict in what Richard and Josephine believe in. In real life, they think that Louise will be so saddened by the news; and she may have a heart attack (Jamil 215). They fantasize the way she will weep, get into trauma at upon receiving the news. On the contrary, Louise finds happiness in the news. It is unreal that a woman will rejoice at the death of her husband and prays for a long life to enjoy her freedom. This fantasy does not happen in reality. If a spouse loose husband or wife, they are sad and life is never the same. It is also unreal that a man confirmed dead by two messages could be alive. This could be true but it has the least probability of occurring in real life. It is also unreal that the joy Louise has of seeing her husband is what causes her heart attack. Perhaps the sorrow (of being bound forever) sends her to the grave (Jamil 220).
Nature and society makes women or girls to be victims. Their fate is usually dictated by society and nature. Everything in society seems to reinforce the weakness of women. They are bound to relationships, marriages that are strenuous just for the society to be satisfied. They have to go by what society wants or else they are ostracized. Education tries to free women but, men and society will always put them back in their place where they have to give in to societal demands. This is represented by the fact that Louise thinks freely in privacy. She has to mourn upon receiving the news of her husband's death. In addition, she knows that she will have to cry upon seeing her husband's body so that society can sympathize with her loss.
This story does not effectively show the way men become victims of society. However, when they fail to provide their women with a good life (flashy car, beautiful home, bright and healthy children, advance their career). Whenever they fail to go into these expectations, they are labeled as failures by society. Men who are divorced are labeled as failures. Both men and women fear failed marriages and people like Mallard try to enforce their will to make everything in marriage to work. In so doing, the will of the woman is completely lost making her feel "lost."
The moral issues that arise in this story are; rejoicing in loss, freedom in death and the evilness of marriage. Louise rejoices the loss of her husband. Divorced people are not welcome in society, and through the death of a spouse, people accept you. This shows the wrongness of society. It does not want anyone to be free from its standards. It is evil to rejoice in the death of a person but in this case, Louise celebrates her newfound freedom thus indirectly rejoicing in the death of her husband.