The Story of an Hour and I Stand here Ironing Essay
‘The Story of an Hour’ is written by Kate Chopin. The story is about a woman Louise who is married to Brently. Louise has heart troubles while the readers learn that her husband has dies in a road accident. Louise’s friend Josephine got to know about the accident and read Brently’s name in the list of those who died. Josephine and Brently’s friend Richards come over to Louise and carefully tell her the news. Louise is upset as she starts crying and runs to her room and requests to be alone. In her room, as she looks outside the window, she recalls her life as it had been with Brently. She cries but as she looks at the trees, feels the wind and listens to the sound of people outside happy and free, she starts imagining herself as free (Chopin 215). She feels that she will no longer be oppressed and can live independently without anyone by her side. Although Brently loved her and she loved him, she believed that women and men oppress each other. She was happy with the fact that she will be free and an independent life is coming her way. In this moment, she enjoyed the feeling of being free and had started planning about her life in future. As she comes out of her room, the front door opens and Brently walks in. Richards and Josephine are shocked and Louise falls down. The doctor comes over and informs that Louise dies out of happiness (Chopin 215).
‘I Stand Here Ironing’ is written by Tillie Olsen and it is about a mother and her daughter. In the beginning of the story we learn that the narrator is a mother who is upset about her daughter’s position and is talking to someone; who is a teacher or a counsellor, who could assist her daughter and provide her help. The mother is ironing as she talks to the unnamed person over the phone and discusses the life of her daughter. The mother talks about all the events that took place in her life that impacted her daughter and how she regrets every moment when she didn’t fulfil her responsibilities; but now she wants to help her daughter with her life (Olsen 270). Her daughter, Emily, lived with her father’s family as her parents were separated and her mother was too poor to afford her. Emily returned to her mother when she was two but still she spent all the time in a day care and with their neighbour as her mother was too busy in working for long hours. She wouldn’t even have enough time for Emily to look at her and smile while Emily longed to spend time with her mother. Emily was then sent to someone else’s care and when she returned, her mother had remarried. Emily received less attention from her mother as she had other siblings too. Emily got sick and became thin and unattractive. Emily did not get along with her siblings either. However, now the mother talks to the unnamed person to ask for assistance and hopes that Emily will return to life as a confident teenager (Olsen 270).
In the first story, Louise’s character shows that she is lonely despite having a loving husband and friends. Louise’s behaviour after her husband’s death shows that she had been feeling oppressed and sad with her husband even though she loved him and he loved her back. Somewhere at the back of her mind, she believed that she was oppressed and now she will be free and independent and can live a better life. She was upset but she believed that all this didn’t matter anymore and she should move on with the reality. In the end of the story, she died in shock seeing her husband as she had already started planning her life without him and somewhere she was happy about being free.
In the second story, Emily and her mother are the main characters who have faced many situations in their lives. Emily has suffered the most because of her mother and her life issues. At this time, her mother is upset with her condition and regrets her decisions that she took for Emily. Emily’s character is seen as the one that has suffered the most. She has seen financial problems, physical problems, health issues as well as emotional instability. She has longed for her mother’s attention since she was a child. Her mother couldn’t give her attention either because of other children, her second husband or her work (Olsen 270). This has affected Emily and her development as she grew old. She has lost all confidence and trust over herself and believes that she is an invaluable creature. She suffers at school activities and with her friends too. The narrator, the mother is the character who has faced problems too but had failed to understand that Emily needed her when she was a child especially when she was sick or ignored. Now the mother is regretting and seeking for help to improve Emily’s condition (Mandell 148).
Both these stories are different in many ways and similar in a few ways. The settings of the stories are different and the position in which the characters are is different. Emotional distress and hope are two common themes seen in these stories. The character of Louise and Emily are portrayed as emotionally disturbed because of their family life. Louise feels oppressed by her husband while Emily feels ignored and unloved. Both suffer mental instability and look for freedom and independence from pain and sufferings. Hope is also seen in Emily’s mother and Louise. Louise looks outside and starts to think about a new beginning showing that she is happy with her upcoming life and hopeful that she can spend it well being free.
On the other hand, Emily’s mother is hopeful that she can seek assistance for her daughter and bring her back to life where she values herself and gains confidence. Another way in which the stories are same is that they talk about a small period of time in which the whole story is explained. The mother talks while she irons and Louise’s story is also just of an hour. Thus, this shows that the scenes are similar and the stories are explained within a small amount of time.
The stories are different in clear ways as the setting is different and the plots of the stories are different. Louise’s story is about her past life and her future, and the shocking event which is linked to her past and future. Her story is about how her life changed and hope ignited but that was just for one hour. The other moment, her life changed and her husband was back which she couldn’t bear. Emily’s story is in a different setting where she is unconfident and doesn’t believe in herself. Her mother is worried about her future and regrets that it is because of her that her daughter is in this condition.
The two stories have discussed different aspects and imagery and symbolism but there are some themes which are similar. Comparing the two stories will show that the writers have used different styles and language to explain their characters and plots. While Chopin has used the nature and sense of freedom to explain Louise’s character, Olsen has used the sense of guilt, regret and burdens of a mother. Hence, the stories are masterpieces of their own type and explain many different things to the reader.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour: And Other Stories. USA: Pinball Publishing, 2011. Print.
Mandell, Stephen. Fiction: Reading, Reacting, Writing. USA: Paulinas, 1993. Print.
Olsen, Tillie. Tell Me a Riddle. USA: Rutgers University Press, 1995. Print.