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According to Kate Chopin, marriage is naturally oppressive. In fact, she believes that even the kindest of marriages have certain elements of oppression. This is quite evident in Louise’s admission that Brently loved her. In addition, she agrees that he was equally kind.
On the other hand, Katherine Mansfield considers marriage as a union of two loved ones who possess each other. It can be observed that Bertha feels like holding her husband Harry on her blissful night. Katherine also shows emotional conflicts that arise in marriages. This paper will compare the two short stories with focus on representation of marriage.
“Bliss” by Katherine Mansfield
Katherine’s short story narrates about a young woman who experiences bliss after a long time of feeling cold. Bertha is 30 years old and she is married to Harry. She has a young daughter with a nanny. On this fateful night, she experiences bliss. She feels warm and she wants to see her husband. According to Katherine, she has been feeling cold for so long that the husband had decided to understand. The couple invites friends for coffee on Bertha blissful night.
She seems to be excited at everything. She feels strangely attracted to Pearl. However, she finds her kissing Harry. Harry had initially pretended to hate Pearl. This complicates her situation. She is confused because she has loved her husband all the while. She has been naïve to think that her husband was faithful. On the other hand, their other visitors, Mr. and Mrs. Knight are portrayed as loving since they come together for the coffee.
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin’s story narrates about a wife with mixed emotional reactions. Louise Mallard is Brently’s wife. She is said to have heart problem. She lives with her sister Josephine. Her husband’s friend Richard gets information about an accident, which supposedly involves her husband. Richard is afraid that Louise may suffer from heart attack. Therefore, he uses Josephine to break the news to her. Initially, Louise is hurt and she cries over it.
However, after looking at herself in the mirror and after looking through the window, she finds belief in herself. She finds renewed strength of freedom. Freedom that she felt marriage had denied her. However, after celebrating freedom, Josephine comes for her. They move downstairs, where they meet Richard. Sadly, Brently arrives too and Louise succumbs to heart attack. Although the doctors said heart attack was caused by joy, there is a possibility that it was by disappointment.
Representation of marriage in “Bliss”
Katherine represents marriage in unbiased manner throughout the story. For instance, the knights are shown to share their love without issues. In fact, she does not mention any problems between the couple. Moreover, they are portrayed to be together in the meeting, which shows unity and togetherness.
However, Bertha and Harry do not share the same experience. Katherine notes that Bertha has always loved her husband except in a romantic way. She even notes that they have always discussed her coldness towards her husband who agreed to understand. This has probably drawn Harry away from her. In fact, on this fateful day, her bliss comes back; she feels young again. However, Harry has another woman.
Pearl is her closest friend yet she is in a secret relationship with Harry. In essence, this marriage lacks romance and love. Harry is deluded that he can survive his marriage without romance. In the end, he cheats on his wife. On the other hand, Bertha denies her husband romance, which possibly leads to him cheating. Marriage is therefore portrayed as an institution with many emotional and physical issues that must be in union to forge ahead.
Representation of marriage in “The Story of an Hour”
In Kate Chopin’s story, it is clear that marriage is represented as an institution that contains many issues. In fact, these issues trigger the feeling of inherent oppression in marriage.
According to Chopin, this is especially relevant to wives in marriages since she uses Louise instead of Brently. Marriage is therefore portrayed as a cage in which the loved ones are oppressed in one way or another. In fact, to Chopin, all marriages are oppressive. For instance, Louise confesses that she loves her husband. In addition, she believes that her husband loves her.
However, she feels remorseful for a few minutes, after which, she breaks from emotional oppression. In essence, marriage is portrayed negatively since loved ones also feel oppressed. According to Louise, her marriage is fulfilling, yet emotionally, she is in a cage of inherent oppression. In some way, partners in marriage are portrayed as though they want to leave the union. This is evident in Louise’s case when she celebrates having been freed yet her husband’s corpse has not arrived.
The two short stories have some similarities in their representation of marriage. One is that marriage involves several emotional issues. In Bertha’s case, she experiences bliss but her husband cannot notice. On the other hand, the husband agrees to understand her coldness (possibly) grudgingly since he goes on to cheat on her.
Again, there is a representation of women to be emotional in marriages as compared to men. Bertha and Louise suffer from emotional issues while Harry is seen to be comfortable with his actions. Moreover, Pearl is seen to be highly disturbed by her actions as opposed to Harry. The authors also portray marriage to be full of deception. Deception in marriage is seen when Harry cheats on his wife.
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Deception is also observed when Louise celebrates her husband’s death. Moreover, Bertha alludes to the fact that she has never loved her husband in the romantic way except for one blissful day. The authors also portray marriage as an institution of independent individuals. This can be seen in the way each partner in the institution plans independently. For instance, Bertha feels blissful but she does not tell her husband.
Marriage represented by Chopin is fulfilling while marriage represented by Katherine is lacking. This is evidenced in Louise’s confession that they loved each other in their union. On the other hand, Bertha is cold towards her husband except on the blissful day. Similarly, Harry cheats on his wife with her closest friend. In addition, while Katherine centers marriage on romance, Chopin does not. For instance, despite the love between Louise and Brently, she feels oppressed. On other hand, Bertha’s marriage lacks romance.
Marriage has been represented variously in both stories. However, they share commonalities in some aspects. For instance, deception is observed in both marriages. In addition, both marriages contain emotional issues, which range from oppression to romance, among others. The differences include marriage fulfillment in Louise’s case and lack of it in Harry’s case. In addition, Bertha’s marriage represents unfaithfulness while Louise’s marriage represents faithfulness.