Unit 3 – Feminist Literature Warm-Up Chopin Notes Read “The Story of an Hour” Homework
Warm-Up In your own words, define the term “constraint”. Illustrate your definition.
About Chopin American author Kate Chopin (1850–1904) wrote two published novels and about a hundred short stories in the 1890s. Most of her fiction is set in Louisiana. Published by some of America's most prestigious magazines, including Vogue and the Atlantic Monthly. Her stories appeared in anthologies from the 1920s.
Background Catherine (Kate) O'Flaherty was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on February 8, 1850. Her father was Thomas O'Flaherty of County Galway, Ireland. Her mother was Eliza Faris of St. Louis. Kate grew up speaking both French and English. 1868 Kate attended the St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart. Mentored by woman--by her mother, her grandmother, great grandmother, as well as by the Sacred Heart nuns.
Continued… Between 1871 and 1879, she gave birth to five sons and a daughter. In New Orleans, where she and her husband lived until 1879, Chopin was at the center of Southern aristocratic social life. 1882 her husband Oscar died of malaria, in 1885 her mother died too. She became active in St. Louis literary and cultural circles, discussing the works of many writers, including Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Émile Zola, and George Sand.
Spent the Civil War in St. Louis, a city where residents supported both the Union and the Confederacy. Deeply responsive during the period just prior to her undertaking a literary career to the major new ideas and fiction of her time, reading fully in Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and the French naturalists. From 1867 to 1870 Kate kept a "commonplace book" in which she recorded diary entries. Writing for her was a therapy against depression.
The Story of an Hour While we read, take notes regarding the relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.
Characters Louise Mallard Brently Mallard: husband of Louise Josephine: sister of Louise Richards: friend of Brently Mallard
Feminist Literature Susan Cahill called the story "one of feminism's sacred texts," and many readers have since concluded that Kate Chopin's sensitivity to what it sometimes feels like to be a woman is on prominent display in this work—as it is in The Awakening. Chopin's often-celebrated yearning for freedom is also on display here—as is her sense of ambiguity and her complex way of seeing life. It's typical of her to note that it is both "men and women" who "believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature."
Synopsis This short story is about an hour in the life of the main character, Mrs. Mallard. She is afflicted with a heart problem. Bad news has come that her husband has died in a train accident. Her sister Josephine and her husband’s friend Richards have to break the painful news to her as gently as possible considering the danger to her health. Ironically, Mrs. Mallard reacts to the news with excitement. She feels she is finally free from the depressing life she was living. She can now live for herself and nobody else. At the end of the story, Mr. Mallard opens the door. He doesn’t know anything about an accident. With a quick motion, Richards tries to block Mr. Mallard’s view of his wife, but it is too late. The doctors say she died of a heart disease. The story ends with the short phrase “of joy that kills.”
Discussion Questions Take notes regarding the following questions as we discuss. 1.Mrs. Mallard “did not hear the story as many women have heard the same”(story quote). What does this reaction suggest about her? Does it suggest how “ladies” were expected to react? 2.What does the setting description tell us about her ordinary life? 3.Who could consider Mrs. Mallard’s joy “monstrous”? Do you judge her negatively at this point? 4.How would this story change if it had been Mr. Mallard at home with heart problems hearing about Mrs. Mallard’s death?
Writing Prompt In at least two well-developed paragraphs, discuss the following: Do all cages have bars? Before the beginning of “The Story of an Hour,” what made Mrs. Mallard feel confined? Why, during the story, does she feel as if she has been released from a cage? Cite evidence from the story to support your answer.