The Same but Different

Raven Huxel

Two stories, Two stories, written so many years apart still have a common thread linking them together, even though the two situations seem so different.  “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “A Sorrowful Woman” by Gail Godwin have very similar situations, although they were written almost seventy-five years apart, they are still linked together by their feelings about their marriages.  Going off little background on the two marriages, the women seem to feel caged in their relationships, which portray them as ungrateful to their loving husbands.  

                       In “The Story of an Hour” the main character, Mrs. Mallard, is told her husband has died in an accident.  After learning of her husband's death she was grieving greatly, as shown, “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment in her sister’s arms.”  But, in “A Sorrowful Woman”, the wife, unnamed, felt no grievances just more of a disgust for her family altogether.  For example, “The sight of them made her so sad and sick she never wanted to see them again.”  The two women have similar feelings but on very different levels; Chopin’s main character at first feels great sadness and grief at the loss of her husband, while Godwin’s character grows to feel sick at the mere sight of her husband and young child. Although Mrs. Mallard from “The Story of an Hour”  was greatly disturbed to her partner's passing, she soon was overcome by a sense of freedom, “Free! Body and Soul free!” she kept whispering to herself.”  She feels free of her husband at last, but Godwin's protagonist never really feels free but more overwhelmed by her family even though she barely sees either of them as the story progresses and she becomes more and more of a recluse. As she says, “The force of the two joyful notes slipped under her door that evening pressed her into the corner of the little room, she had hardly space to breathe.”  She seems to feel trapped but gets a burst of sporadic energy, eventually making peace with herself in her death. Unlike Chopin’s character, who dies of what is stated in the story as “A joy that kills.” But she actually has a heart attack from shock at the sight of her husband again, who she thought to be dead and the realization that her newfound freedom is taken from her once more.

                       The two characters have similar feelings but it could be argued that their situations are not similar at all.  They have similar roles as women in that time, which seemed to be a housewife or stay at home mother, they wanted to feel as though they would be living for themselves, not for someone else, “There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself.”  The characteristics of marriage were probably different between the two women as the times were different. But they both feel trapped and unhappy with their marriages. With the little information that we have about the marriages themselves though, the husbands were very loving and the wives had a good life made by good husbands, but it was obvious that it was not the life that they had wanted so they opted to take out their emotions upon their family.