I find it interesting that much of my work has come to be regarded as “feminist” literature. I wonder, if I were a man, would my writing still be considered as such. I understand how it could be read and interpreted in this way, but I have to say, I do not wholly agree. I have written from experience, some my own and some gained through observation. I have tried to create characters with their own identities, who have their own unique circumstances and obstacles to overcome. I wanted to convey a view of reality through the eyes of an individual, whether they were male or female.
The purpose of my short story, The Story of an Hour, was not to condemn the institution of marriage, but to examine what marriage can feel like for one person, in this case the story’s main character, Louise Mallard. Keep in mind, in the 19th century, woman had few options other than marriage. More were slowly becoming available, but we were a long way off from the many options women have today. Many women married young (I myself was married at 20 and had all of my six children by the time I was 28) so they were unable to develop any sense of self outside of the expected role of wife and/or mother. Marriage could be oppressive, especially if a woman had an overly controlling husband or if she was overwhelmed with familial and social responsibilities.
The possibility Louise sees of having a life that is completely her own is exhilarating and exciting to her. As she begins to whisper, “free, free, free!”, it is not without a thought for her supposedly dead husband; she remembers fondly his “tender” hands, his face that had “never looked save with love upon her”. She had even loved him…”sometimes”. It is the possibility that she would be in complete control of her own destiny that causes Louise to emerge from her room feeling like a “goddess of Victory”, triumphantly facing a future of her own making.It is Louise’s crushing disappointment that kills her. When her husband walks through the door, it is too much for her to physically and emotionally accept, and she dies.
This piece is not “feminist” in the sense of being anti-marriage or man-bashing, it is a study of an individual’s feelings. That individual happens to be a woman. I hope as you read my work you come to realize that the emotions I tried to convey are universal and not specific to a single gender.