Essay, 3 pages (800 words)

Views on marriage

and Number Kate Chopin’s “ The Story of an Hour” and Susan Glaspell’s “ Trifles” appear to be very different stories on the surface. The first details a young woman’s reaction to the news of her husband’s death only to perish when she finds out that he is still very much alive and well. The second is a one-act play where several men and women are trying to uncover who killed Mr. Wright, one of their neighbors, and the prime suspect appears to be his wife-Mrs. Wright. However different these stories may be, they share one important commonality: the theme of marriage. Both of these pieces present marriage in a similar fashion. In “ The Story of an Hour,” the main character is, at first, experiencing sorrow over the death of her husband. After a brief time; however, the character starts to feel joyful about the situation. At one point Mrs. Mallard reveals why it is she is experiencing this joy: “ She said it over and over under her breath: ” free, free, free!””(Chopin). She realizes at this moment that the death of her husband has released her from the bonds of marriage. “ There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers…”(Chopin). Due to the fact that she was experiencing so much happiness at the thought of being free and getting to do what she wanted to do with the remainder of her life, it is a terrible shock when she soon finds her very much alive husband downstairs. Earlier in the story, it is made known that Mrs. Mallard is in poor health and when she sees her husband, she dies. The doctors claim that she died of joy, but the audience is left to consider the fact that she more likely died of disappointment or heartbreak at the sudden loss of her newfound freedom. In this particular story, marriage is portrayed as oppressive and all consuming. Similarly, in the play “ Trifles,” Mrs. Wright appears to have killed her husband because he strangled her songbird (Glaspell). It can be inferred that the songbird was very special to Mrs. Wright as it represented the freedom that this woman craved. She likely identified with the bird as it was caged up and not allowed to spread its wings by the oppressive Mr. Wright. There is a point in the play where the female neighbors are gathered in the kitchen and they begin to notice the cold and lonely environment that Mrs. Wright lived in (Glaspell). Just as Mr. Wright did not appreciate the songbird and killed its spirit, so too did he not appreciate his wife and nearly murdered her spirit. The main difference between “ The Story of an Hour” and “ Trifles” lies in the fact that in the former story presents a more conflicted viewpoint on marriage than the latter. Mrs. Mallard admits to her conflicting emotions at one point: “ And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not” (Chopin). This portrayal of marriage is perhaps more accurate than the marriage in “ Trifles” which is much more intentionally cold and oppressive without a semblance of positivity so as to push the woman to kill her husband. Additionally, the endings of these marriages are markedly different as these two pieces can almost be thought of as two different extremes. In one, the woman ends up dying because of her oppressive marriage whereas in the other, the woman takes matters into her own hands and ends her oppressive marriage by murdering her husband. Both of these stories are somewhat open to interpretation which is why it very important to understand each one’s take on marriage. It is vital that the reader be able to tell that Mrs. Mallard was unhappy in an oppressive marriage and joyful at the thought of being free. The death of this character at the end is ambiguous in terms of why she died; therefore, knowing that she was unhappy is helpful to the interpretation that this woman died of disappointment or perhaps even chose to die so as to get out of her marriage. In “ Trifles,” the ending is fairly ambiguous as well with readers unsure as to why Mrs. Wright killed her husband. Through the use of details, the author shows that Mr. Wright was cold, oppressive, and cruel. In fact, he is so awful that he killed Mrs. Wright’s beloved bird which is ultimately the catalyst for the murder. For readers who pay attention to the details, they are able to unravel the mystery of the Wright’s marriage which ultimately helps in understanding the end of the story. References Chopin, K. ” The Story of an Hour.” English Department . Virginia Commonwealth University. Web. 17 Jun 2011. http://www. vcu. edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/ Glaspell, S. ” Trifles .” English Department . Virginia Commonwealth University. Web. 17 Jun 2011. http://www. vcu. edu/engweb/eng384/trifles. htm

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