Question: Discuss the role of sexual politics in Louise mallard’s possession of self assertion. Answer: Kate Chopin is a very famous American writer of the nineteenth century. She was an independent woman who did not confine to the socio-political bonds of the society. Chopping short story “The Story of an Hour” published in 1894 is about a woman who receives the news of the death of her husband and the sense of freedom that she experiences after his death. The protagonist of the story “The Story of an Hour”,
Louise Mallard is suffering from heart trouble when she gets to know that her husband has died in a rail accident. She experiences turmoil of emotions as she becomes familiar with the idea that there will not be anyone who will control her life from now. Her feelings changes from the “storm of grief” to the “monstrous JOY’ that she feels as she realizes she is an independent woman from now on, and she herself would be responsible for her life and the only person she would live for now would be only herself and no one else. Lawrence l. Bereave in his essay, “Fatal Self-
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Assertion in Kate Chopping “The Story of an HOLE says that Louise is an immature, egoistic and a victim of her own self assertion. He says that the reason why Louise experiences the Joy is because she would finally be able to live for herself and have her independent identity. Since she was not suffering from a bad married life, so according to him, there is no gender politics involved in the self assertion of Louse’s identity. He says that the story is not about marriage or society but only about Louise Mallard and her identity crisis.
The argument that Bereave gives in his essay is a title incomplete, saying that Louise was suffering only from an identity crisis would be wrong to say since the whole idea that she needs self assertion tells us that she was going through self effacement in her married life, and this forces us to ask why was she going through this effacement in her life; is it only because of her own self or is there something more to it like the social and marital bonds, and was she happy in her married life, or her husband dominated her in such a way that is became practically impossible for her to live as an independent individual.
Saying that it was only her own identity crisis would actually make us neglect all these possibilities of her “monstrous JOY’. The point that is very much evident with the close reading of the text is that, Louise Mallard is a subject to the masculine discourse of the story. She is introduced as “Mrs… Mallard” and referred to as “she” for most of the narrative, only once is she called by her own name and that too by her sister, Josephine. As she sits in her room and drinks the very “elixir of life”, she experiences a new life coming into her, and she realizes that she has now no one who would control her.
She was not ouch upset cause of her husband’s death but she was actually looking forward to what lies ahead of her. All this shows that she is defined as a selfless woman who is attached or rather affiliated to Presently Mallard as his wife, someone who does not have her own social status and who surely lacks self identity. This feminist reading of the text shows to us the reasons of her facing self effacement in her married life and hence her need for self assertion. It can also be argued that Louise lack of self was just her own issue and the social norms or her marital life did not play a role in it. N only happen when she knows that her identity is at stake because she must have had experienced individuality before her marriage, this probably means that she was satisfied with herself before her marriage and she knew what it is be like an independent woman, but after her marriage this disappeared and she lost the control of herself. Also the whole idea that she starts her self-assertion and the possession of herself only after the death of her husband tells us that she was in a way not satisfied with her marriage life and the whole crisis of her lack of identity is because of her husband and her marred life.
It very clearly shows us that Presently death gives her a glimpse of a new life that she was always looking for also gives us a reason to think that she was not being able to be “herself” in the discourse of her married life. We are thus getting closer to the view that the sexual politics of her husband played a dominant role Louse’s self assertion, but to say that she was facing self crisis only because of her household would be wrong to say. That would suggest that Louise was having a bad married life and that Mr…
Mallard was not a loving husband. The story in fact states the opposite, it clearly says that Mr… Mallard was a gentle and kind husband who loved her truly and it also says that even she loved him. It again forces us to ask the question that if her married life is so perfect then why she feels Joy after the death of her husband. Thus the whole issue of identity crisis becomes problematic because it is not only because of her own self but it is also related with her familial bounds.
Maybe Chopin is suggesting that all marriages, even the kindest ones, are inherently oppressive. Louise, who readily admits that her husband was kind and loving, nonetheless feels Joy when she lives that he has died, probably because she was oppressed by her husband. We can thus see that the sexual politics plays an important role in Louse’s experience of the “monstrous JOY’, but there lies an internal irony in the text, from her emotions to her self-assertion, the reasons are ambiguous.
But it would be incorrect to say that her identity crisis is only because of herself. The self assertion and the urge to be independent is intermingled with the sexual politics that she faced in her marriage life, because had they been separate, she would not wait for her husband’s death to assert herself. Had Mr… Mallard been an understanding husband, he would have understood that she is an independent woman who needs not to be controlled by anyone else and hence she would be feeling Joy after his death.
Thus, we can see that Louise Mallard sufferings and the need for self assertion was not only because of her identity crisis but also because of the gender politics that she was facing in her married life. Chopin makes her an independent woman who was oppressed by the social bonds and wanted to break free from them. Louise comes out to be a self searching woman who wants to find her individuality, which her married life is meow not allowing her to do.
No doubt she was in search of a self, and she wanted to be independent but that doesn’t completely means that she was dissatisfied with her married life. She wanted to be known Louise, an independent woman, and not as someone’s wife and that is probably the reason why she felt that she had a possession of herself after her husband’s death, and not because of her bad marriage life. Hence, the reason why she was experiencing happiness after the death of her husband is mainly that she would be able to be herself finally, that she