Analysis of the Themes in ‘The Story of An Hour’ and ‘The Chrysanthemums’

In 21 Century, most of people think that having freedom is natural; marriage of course is a happy moment in their lives. Also in many counties men and women’s status are nearly equal now. No matter you ate a man or a woman, as long as you have the ability, you can become a boss or even politician like Hillary Diance Rodham Clinton who is the 67th United States of Secretary of State. However, in the past, it is impossible for women to enjoy for their freedom and marriage put them into “prison”. In the past, marriage is like an institution for woman. “The story of an Hour” and “The chrysanthemums” have similar theme which focuses on the marriage’s impact on woman. The writer tries to express the discontent this phenomenon through the story. Although women can defy against their husband and marriage, it depends the era.

Society had no place for women, regardless of their ability. Society did not expect women to work, women should stay at home to do housework and obey their husband. Society in late nineteenth century expected women to keep house, cook, and take care of children Moreover, employers generally discriminated against women by hiring them for menial jobs only, paying them less than men for the same work. (Michael J. Cummings, 2006) “The Story of an Hour” shows that Mrs. Mallard’s husband every day controls her wife. Mrs. Mallard’s has never shows her feeling she learn about her husband is death. Consequently, in her marriage, she was stressed. These indicates that she gives up to fight for her freedom as she know whatever she does she will not able to escape from her husband’s control which does not have anything to do, even only to do the housework.

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That makes Mrs. Mallard feel repression. When Mrs. Mallard knows that her husband was dead, she is very excited as she can leave the prison. When her husband life, she express the emotion, she does not have any way to relax. In 19 Century many women would through some arts to express their emotion, like music and art. (Katherine H, 1984) However, Mrs. Mallard does not have anything to do, she does not have any way to express her emotion. It shows that the society is not fair to the women. “The Chrysanthemums” is an accurate critique of society that has no place for intelligent women. Although Elisa is clever, energetically, attractive, and ambitious, all these attributes go to waste. Though the two protagonists the story is less interesting and talented than her, their lives are far more fulfilling and busy. (Thomas, 2003) Woman cannot do anything, even they have the ability! This phenomenon is caused by the socialization. Due to the culture, woman cannot defy against their husband their husband and the social norm.

Before the modern age, husbands tend to protect their wives. But, it brought many women the loss of freedom. Being too many protective will become confinement, confinement can result in a lot of pressure they experience. Many husbands misunderstand that not letting their wives to go out to work equal protect theme. In “The Story of an Hour” after Mrs. Mallard’s marriage, she has never left her house. Because of her heart disease, her husband can control her everything and seems to be reasonable. He can explain that he just want to protect her. Because he thought the area outside is more dangerous. But he did not know loneness was more serious inside. Being lonely is the cause of Mrs. Mallard’s heart disease.

Over protected not only fairs to protect woman, it even bring the opposite effect. The world in “The Chrysanthemums”, a woman’s role is merely to keep the house and look pretty while spending much of the day alone and cut off from the excitement of the outside world. (Shmoop University, 2012) Elisa’s husband instructed Elisa to take care of the garden only, however her knowledge is not less than a men. She can mange other things and she can understand the world. She went outside with the workers and wants to challenge her husband. However that was not successful. Finally she gave up. As she knew that she cannot break down the society norms. Nobody can deny even women have ability to work. Unfortunately in the past, men override women’s right. Women cannot do anything. They can only accept this to be over- protected.

Women, because of excessive control, they will lose their characters. They do not know their feeling, emotion and value. The social norms state that women must listen to their husband by obeying their husband’s instruction. Due to the loss of their own values, they do not to know how to fight against their husband. “In the Story of an Hour” Mrs. Mallard’s indifference can represent she lose her personality. As Mrs. Mallard suffer from heart disease, therefore his husband want to protect her. Her husband not allow her leaves the house, even she cannot leaves the room. As Mrs. Mallard cannot leave the house, so she cannot contact with the society which she have the different with the society therefore she do not have the interest about the society. And she does not have a channel to share her felling.

For the long time ago, she lost her personality. When her husband dead, she think she have a hope, she can see the blue sky and breathe in fresh air. It represents she expect contact with the society again. In the “The Chrysanthemums” it mentions that “her face was eager and mature and handsome, even her work with the chrysanthemums was over-gear, over- powerful.” However handsome is not a word we usually see describing a woman. (Shmoop university, 2012) It represents that Elisa always follow her husband’s orders. However Elisa should have her own character. Her husband instruction is self- defense system. Lamentably women did not have any choice and they can follow her husband’s instructions. In the past, women’s personality is easily affected by their husbands. Women may hide their personality to protect themselves or to accept the fact, because of the social expectations.

“The Story of An Hour” and “The Chrysanthemums” can remind us education career and marriage are unfair for the woman in 19 Century. Nowadays the society although have some welfare, it still unfair for woman. Therefore the literature stills keeps the “The Story of An Hour” and “The Chrysanthemums” which want us to have a reflection about our society. Luckily, nowadays is better than the past, but still need the improvement.


Michael J. Cummings, 2006.

Katherine H, 1984. Seeing The American Woman, 1880-1920: The Social Impact Of The Visual Media Explosion. North Carolina. Mc Farland

Thomas, 2003. Odor of chrysanthemums. ProQuest

Shmoop University, 2012.

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Analysis of the Themes in ‘The Story of An Hour’ and ‘The Chrysanthemums’. (2017, Dec 21). Retrieved from