Depiction Of The Main Characters In Kate Chopin’s Novels

Women were not allowed to enjoy the same freedoms as men in the 1800s. They had to be happy and stay home. Both of these stories were published at this time and helped people to realize that they deserve their own lives. Edna wakes up in The Awakening after she realizes her marriage isn’t working out. The Story of the Hour tells the story of Mrs.Mallard who goes through a difficult time when she believes her husband has died, but then finds out that he is alive. The Awakening is a completely different story from The Story of an Hour, but the two main characters Edna and Mary Mallard are in similar situations.

Edna Mallard is like Edna because both of them feel the exact same way. The two women felt like their husbands were happy and yet they felt trapped. Kate Chopin, in The Story of an Hour describes the feelings of Mrs. Mallard when she declares, “‘free! Free!’ The vacant look and terror that followed her words went out of her eyes”(Chopin, 170). She’s beginning to realize that she doesn’t want to just stay home to please her man, but needs more freedom. Now Mrs. Mallard realizes that she is feeling suffocated by her marriage. Edna, too, wanted to live in peace without worrying or having expectations. The Awakening said that she became more reckless and daring as a result of overestimating herself. She wanted to go swimming far out, where women hadn’t swum in the past (Chopin p. 47). She has been through so much, she needs some quiet time to herself. She wants her own voice, but can she be who she is when so many others expect it? Edna’s and Mallard’s marriages were toxic, leading to their fall but also their awakening. Edna was affected by Mr.Pontellier’s lack of affection for Edna. Kate Chopin wrote in The Awakening that “Edna became more insolent when Mr.Pontellier was rude” (Chopin, 95). Mr.Pontellier treated her as if she were a piece of cake. Even though he bought her presents and gave her money, he seemed to always be in an unhappy mood. Edna grew to hate Mr. Pontenllier, and he did too. She slowly fell for Robert as he was more caring. It’s a bit like Mrs. Mallard and her marriage. She thought that her husband had died while at work. Kate Chopin says in The Story of an Hour “she’d loved him, sometimes”. Often she had not” (Chopin 170). Mrs. Mallard often realized that she deserved more. She died of a heartattack after she discovered that her husband was alive. She had believed he was deceased. Edna Mallard was also killed by her toxic marriage. She felt that she and her husband were under control. Both had expectations of how they should be treated. Their husband didn’t treat them as their wife; he treated her as a mere visitor.

Both Edna & Mrs. Mallard struggled for freedom and to be themselves. Edna went out to sea because she felt like she could escape and feel free. The Awakening says that “the sea’s voice speaks directly to the spirit”. The sea’s touch is sensual, wrapping the body in a soft, close embrace (Chopin, 25). She would discover how strong and resilient she was when she went out to sea. Edna was trying to discover herself and take control of her destiny, so she took her own life. Edna’s awakening and Mrs. Mallards’s are similar. After her husband’s “death,” Mrs. Mallard begins to understand how independent and free she feels. Kate Chopin, in The Story of an Hour said: “She recognized this thing that she felt was about to possess and was attempting to fight it back …”. She didn’t realize that Mr. Mallard had died until it was too late. She was saddened that her husband had died, but on the inside she was happy. Because if she were still alive he would control her and she wouldn’t have any freedom. Edna, Mrs. Mallard’s daughter and both of them got exactly what they wanted from their deaths. That is to say that they felt in control and free.

Both main characters were two separate people. According to Chopin (Chopin 67), “she realized that her current self was somehow different from the previous self.” This quote shows Edna’s and Mrs. Mallard’s changing views and their evolving personalities. The story shows their growth. Edna has become more open towards the end. When we look at Mrs. Mallard’s story, we can see that she starts off feeling closed and sad but ends up feeling more energetic.

Edna’s two kids and her husband make Edna feel like she is their “slave”. Edna feels like she is their “slave” because of her two kids and husband. However, Mrs. Mallard does not have children. It is her husband alone who makes her believe that she has no control over her life. Even though they both died from the same cause, their deaths were very different. Edna was killed in a mysterious manner, nobody knew about it. In the case of Mrs. Mallard’s death, it was not her suicide but her heart disease. After she suffered a heartattack, people were expecting something.

Edna Mallard is more like Edna than she is different. They have almost experienced the same situations. Both wives were not happy with the way their husbands controlled them. They wanted freedom and to live. This was all normal in the 1800s because women and men didn’t always enjoy the same freedom and equal rights. Kate Chopin wrote both stories to show men and women that they are equal.


  • rosewebb

    Rose Webb is an educational blogger and volunteer who also studies for a degree in law. She loves to write about her experiences and share her knowledge with others, and is passionate about helping others to achieve their goals.

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