Mrs Mallard: Character Analysis
One is neither physically nor verbally free to express oneself in typical society. Society tends to criticize what we say and do. Conducting a critical analysis of things is a fundamental characteristic of human nature. What we express is sieved through a net of criticism and oppression. The social customs and norms enforce us to conform to the standards laid out for various walks of life including interaction and allegiance and disallow deviation to them. Although society tends to offend everyone in general, yet the greatest victims are women. Stereotyped gender roles confine women to their houses and deny their claim in society and politics. (Richani, 2008). This paper evaluates “The story of an hour” and assesses the conceptualization that the surrounding defines restriction that aligns the extent of freedom as expressed in this story.
Before proceeding further, it will be customary to define freedom first. “Freedom is the right to choose: the right to create for yourself the alternatives of choice.” (MacLeish, n.d. cited in web.riverdeep.net, 2002). Thus freedom can be thought of as something exclusive of restraints, and the two can not stand together. Where there is freedom, there is no restraint and vice versa. Restrain has no shape or form whatsoever ( www.enotes.com, 2010). In light of “The Story of an Hour”, Mrs. Mallard is a lady from the 19th century – an era of suppression and limited freedom, specifically for women. During those times the society was different from the current days, and the norms were unlike the current society. This provides a plain arena to the expression that the imposition of restriction is a subject of the society or the surroundings.
In “The story of an hour”, the society feels naturally obliged to support the weak. Mrs. Mallard, who has a heart problem, is considered weak by her husband who feels employed for her protection. In the process, he implements roles that infringe on the freedom of Mrs. Mallard. His actions are motivated by the expectation of the society that a husband or the close relatives of a weak person are obliged to their protection. Consistent with the statement “restriction has no shape or form”, actions that are carried out for whichever intentions whether in kindness or cruelty can qualify to restrict therefore derive freedom. In Mrs. Mallard’s case, the intentions of her husband are to restrict her as a result of which, she loses her freedom. Due to the society’s standing on women, her opinion on her husband’s actions can not be sought. Mrs. Mallard has always lived in a restraining environment and has never been able to make her own decision.
On her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard seeks freedom in isolation. But according to her sisters, her situation does not encourage isolation and what she needs most is the company in solace. Her self-assertion has been compromised by the feelings of her sisters. What is perceived as protection by her close ones has turned out to be detainment? Since her childhood, she has always been the responsibility of someone. The people close to her have always felt a need to protect her. From her sisters to her husband, the idea that Mrs. Mallard needs protection has been deeply embedded. This can only be translated as the society’s position on the weak. Considering that the husband and her sisters take a similar position in one issue, it can be adequately perceived as a requirement or an obligation imposed by the surroundings.
By nature, Mrs. Mallard finds motivation and while looking out of the window, she realizes that the only place she has partially explored is her room. Freedom has always been associated with the relief of restriction from an authority. In most cases, the authority uses radical measures to restrain and the intention of the restriction has not usually been pegged to one’s own safety. In Mrs. Mallard’s case, she is capable of defying her husband’s demands and explores the world she so much adores. She is confined to her home which she can decide to leave because of the absence of a radical restraining mechanism. But instead, she chooses to content with the situation. It can be reasonably observed that society resents the disobedience of women to their husbands. Women are held at ransom by the society to pledge allegiance to their husbands’ intentions and this forms a different kind of restriction from the cages that are used by the surrounding to deny freedom to the women.
A basic question arises from Mrs. Mallard’s situation; whether one realizes the restrictions that bound him or her from freedom especially if the restrictions are socially affiliated. With Mrs. Mallard being held captive in her home by her husband, an irony exists as a home turns out to be captivation from what the society defines as a lifetime partner in the place expected to provide hospitality according to the standards of social life. Nature and other animals that live in societies that are not highly structured represent unlimited freedom and physical representation such as the door and window are used to portray shelter from her sister and her cage respectively. These representations lay focus on the impact of the society and the surrounding in propagating restrictions.
Mrs. Mallard’s physical demise signifies the unattained freedom her mind had dreamt of and created. On a critical analysis, her world was created and managed for her. The basis of her captivity is the notion that the weak need help and aims at exploring the perception of women in her particular environment. These norms have been widely accepted and practiced. Every aspect of captivity traces its reasons for creating disharmony in the society and the measure of calibration is referenced to the norms and attitude of the surroundings. For instance, a person who has committed murder has created disharmony in his or her surroundings; his or her penalty will deny freedom in measures reflective of the society’s view of his or her crime. In Asian countries, drug-trafficking calls for the toughest punishments, unlike in America. It is evident from the fact that “Southeast Asia’s governments impose the toughest drug laws on the planet.” (Aquino, 2010). This measure reflects the perception of Asian nations on the drug menace. These concepts trace down and wide to create restrictions that limit freedom. Clearly the society has a single source of restrictions that limit freedom from every perspective.
Aquino, Michael. “Harsh Punishments for Drug Use in Southeast Asia”. About.com. The New York Times Company. 2010. Web. 23 June 2010.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. Imported. 1. USA: Perfection Learning, 2000. 32. Print.
Richani, S. “Yemen: Freedom of expression in Peril”. Article 19. Global campaign for free expression. Jan. 2008. pdf. 23 June 2010.
“What is freedom”. web.riverdeep.net. 9 Sep. 2002. Web. 23 June 2010.