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Essay on Differences in Men and Women in Story of an Hour

The Story of an Hour – Differences in Men and Women

Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” appears merely to explore a woman’s unpredictable reaction to her husband’s assumed death and reappearance, but actually Chopin offers Mrs. Mallard’s bizarre story to reveal problems that are inherent in the institution of marriage. By offering this depiction of a marriage that stifles the woman to the point that she celebrates the death of her kind and loving husband. Chopin challenges her readers to examine their own views of marriage and relationships between men and women. Each reader’s judgment of Mrs. Mallard and her behavior inevitably stems from his or her own personal feelings about marriage and the influences of societal expectations. Readers of differing genders, ages, and marital experiences are, therefore, likely to react differently to Chopin’s startling portrayal of the Mallards’ marriage, and that certainly is true of my response to the story compared to my father’s and grandmother’s responses.

Marriage often establishes boundaries between people that make them unable to communicate with each other. The Mallards’ marriage was evidently crippled by both their inability to talk to one another and Mrs. Mallard’s conviction that her marriage was defined by 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.” Yet she does not recognize that it is not just men who impose their will upon women and that the problems inherent in marriage affect men and women equally. To me, Mrs. Mallard is a somewhat sympathetic character, and I appreciate her longing to live ou…

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…o relate more easily to her predicament and are quicker to exonerate her any of responsibility for her unhappy situation. Conversely, male readers are more likely to feel compassion for Mr. Mallard, who loses his wife for reasons that will always remain entirely unknown to him. Older readers probably understand more readily the strength of social forces and the difficulty of trying to deny societal expectations concerning gender roles in general and marriage in particular. Younger readers seem to feel that Mrs. Mallard is too passive and that she could have improved her domestic life immeasurably if she had taken the initiative to either improve or end her relationship with her husband. Ultimately, how each individual reader responds to Mrs. Mallard’s story reveals his or her own ideas about marriage, society, and how men and women communicate with each other

journeyhod Journey Motif in Heart of Darkness and Jasmine

Journey Motif in Heart of Darkness and Jasmine

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine, the physical journey represents the setting for the psychological journey that both main characters undergo. Each stage of the journey is correlated to an emotional insight, and the implications are great enough to incur a change in the protagonists’ lives. Through the discovery of distant lands and foreign ideas, Marlow and Jasmine are prompted to look internally to find the answers to their questions. Their struggles are personal, and they are driven by different guiding forces, yet both experience a greater sense of self-awareness by the end of their journey.

Initially, Marlow and Jasmine embark on physical journeys involving movement over water. Marlow’s fascination with the Congo River drives him to set out in search of the unknown, to fulfill his longing to explore the “blank spaces” of the map (Conrad 5). Marlow first crosses the English Channel to Brussels, a city that elicits an image of a “whited sepulcher” (7), which serves as an omen of the events that are about to unfold. The city, and the operation of the trading company, appear on the surface to be benevolent, but hidden at the very core are darkness and corruption. Jasmine’s journey begins under quite different circumstances. She also crosses the ocean in search of a new and mysterious land, but for a very unique reason. Leaving Jyoti behind, Jasmine travels a long and indirect route to Florida where she intends to throw herself onto a funeral pyre in the custom of a traditional Indian widow.

The further from home Marlow and Jasmine travel, the more alienated they feel from the world and the people around them. Viewing the coas…

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…e face in life. Both novels address influences that guide us through our spiritual lives, and how they potentially affect our decisions and choices. Marlow does not reach this understanding until he leaves a place of modernity and travels “back to the earliest beginnings of the world” (30), returning to Europe at the end of his journey a changed man. Conversely, Jasmine is able to progress emotionally and achieve personal fulfillment once she leaves the antiquated society of India for the United States. The ambiguity of Heart of Darkness and Jasmine accurately reflects the fluid and unpredictable nature of our own existence, and the adversity we must surmount in our journey through life.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. 1902. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1990.

Mukherjee, Bharati. Jasmine. 1989. New York: Ballantine Books, 1991.

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