Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject English -
Literature, Works, grade: 2,0, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz,
course: Proseminar, language: English, abstract: Kate Chopin, a
female writer and essayist, lived from 1850 to 1904. From 1894
onwards, she was pushing her career to become a well accepted
author. Three of her most striking stories - "A Respectable Woman,"
"The Story of an Hour," and "Her Letters" - were about wives and
their strong individualities (Toth 171). This paper is to give a
feminist reading of her short story "The Story of an Hour," written
on April 19, 1894, which is in the American literary canon today.
To emphasise its significance, one should mention the publication
of this short story in one of the early issues of the Vogue (Toth
172). In her stories, Chopin dared to write about women, finding
their personal freedom and choosing their own ways of liberation -
very uncommon fiction in that period of time - or as Papke claims,
the "first modern female literary discourse in America" (4).
Whereas on the one hand, the public rights of women were slowly
being gained (e.g. the vote, education, rights to their children
and their own property), on the other hand private needs of women
were not issues so far yet. Though she never took part in any
feminist movement (Papke 2), Kate Chopin can be seen as a
pre-feminist writer and her work can be treated as a feminist
statement. She "however, produce s] what one might call, for want
of a better term, female moral art in works that focus relentlessly
on the dialects of social relations and the position of women
therein" (Papke 2). "The Story of an Hour" illuminates how a woman,
after her husband's sudden death, finds herself freed, achieves
autonomy, and starts to develop self-determination - at least for
the duration of one hour, as the title proclaims. It can be seen as
a description of a moment that shatters social complacency and
gives birth to a woman's self-desire and self-recognition.
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