Compare and Contrast: “The Story of an Hour” vs. “The Hand” Essay

Compare and Contrast: “The Story of an Hour” vs. “The Hand” Women in the 19th century were repressed by their husbands. Society was male dominated. Women were likely to stay at home to manage household and raise the children. Not many women had jobs at that time, and even the ones who did were paid salaries lower than men were. The two short stories “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin’s and “The Hand” by Colette both characterize the nature of marriage and womanhood by examining the worries of their female characters, but mostly shows one main theme, which is dysfunctional marriage. In fact, in both cases, the women are totally affected by the men in their lives: their personalities and lifestyles have been imposed and molded predominantly by men. However, Mrs. Mallard and the young woman cope in a different ways. The two short stories discussed about two radically different women both with repressive men in their lives. In “The Story of an Hour”, Mrs. Mallard recognizes she wished to be free from her marriage; she has a heart condition, which means that if she’s startled, she could die, So she must be informed carefully about her husband’s death. Her sister, Josephine, tells her the news. Louise begins sobbing when Josephine tells her of Brently’s death and goes upstairs to be alone in her room; she sits down and looks out an open window. She sees trees and hears a peddler screaming out what he’s selling. She hears someone singing as well as the sounds of sparrows, and there are downy white clouds in the sky. She is young, with lines around her eyes.

Still crying, she looks into the distance. She feels anxious and tries to defeat the building emotions within her, but can’t. She begins repeating the word Free! to herself over and over again. Her heart beats quickly, and she feels very warm. She fantasizes about all the days and years ahead and hopes that she lives a long life. This is an ironic story. In my point of view, I think there are two ironies. First of all, Louise cried when she heard her husband was dead. The irony here is she only cries for a little while and this is very funny, because normal people will cry for very long time; however, she turns back to normal very fast. Second, after Louise went back to her bedroom and she saw the beautiful scene. This indicated that she was free from his husband. In “The Hand”, the young woman is trying to analyze the situation and speculating if she did the right thing, married a man after knowing him for only a month. As the young bride’s husband sleeps’, the wife remains awake, supporting his head proudly so that he may rest in comfort. During the 20th century in western society, women were taught to provide support and be soothing towards their husbands in order to ease their live; as the husband sleeps, Colette makes sure to display that he still holds the power between the two beings. The young wife, meanwhile fears moving and disrupting his sleep, this is a clear demonstration that the society has unconsciously forced a sense of authority over her even if the young man did not force it upon her. To me, one woman is looking to be loved, and the other is trying to explore the fears that she has about the relationship, I also believe that both stories confirms the old-fashioned marital roles at the time of its writing, that the husband has power over the wife.

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Mrs. Mallard and the young lady are two women that they have love but cannot really find it. Mrs. Mallard is relieved with the liberation when she receives the notice that her husband is apparent death, while the young lady finds herself at a junction of confusion and frustration. Louise is married to Brently Mallard. At the beginning of the story Louise finds out that Brently is apparently dead. This brings out some sadness from Louise, but overwhelms that feeling fairly quickly. The young woman thinks about how happy she is and reflects on the fact that she has been married for just two weeks with someone that she only know for a month, she remembers how she met her husband. She remembers that he was a young, handsome man. She does not want to disturb her sleeping husband. As time progresses, and the newlywed couple continue to lay together, the young wife begins to notice small features of her husband’s right hand. The more she studies it, the uglier it seems to her. She states, in paragraph 15, “The thumb stiffened itself out, horribly long and spatulate, and pressed tightly against the index finger, so that the hand suddenly took on a vile, apelike appearance.” she becomes disgusted by the vision of her husband’s hand , the girl looks on with increasing repulsion and panic. In both stories both woman’s have a different perspective about the marriage, for example in “The story of an Hour” give details about the point to which women were “trapped” by the very establishment of marriage, even thought if she does not recognize it. For Mrs. Mallard the institution of marriage is restrictive to both men and women. Nevertheless, marriage is considerably more restrictive. Mrs. Mallard symbolizes a woman who seems submissive to her life of marriage.

On the other pointer, the story of “The Hand” the marriage is focused on the wife’s examination and encounter of the masculinity which she discovers in her spouse against the femaleness in herself. She is trying to think about if she did the right decision to marriage someone that she knows little of. Her fears pronounce awareness about her husband’s hand strong and in a separate way it belongs to a man who imposed authority. Both stories take place in a time where it was socially unacceptable for woman to be free and do whatever they want. They had to have a man as a support. Together they lived in male controlled society. This situation stuck Mrs. Mallard, because she was not allowed to express her opinion from her husband. Through the end of the story she was happy with the thought of being single. In another way, in “The hand” is another representation around the inequity of authority between the husband and wife. For me, the hand symbolizes the husband’s dominance and control. When the wife caresses her husband’s hand, she is submitting to him and admitting his power above her. In my opinion, these stories confirm the traditional conjugal roles and the communal expectancy in the 19th century, where the husband has total dominion in the marriage.