Although marriage is the symbol of two lives union, in the real world many people experience it in the opposite way. Gloria Steinem says: The surest way to be alone is to get married. In The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, we can certainly realize how well the author describes the loneliness of a marriage. There is another short story that also reflects the same point of view in a relationship; it is William Faulkners A Rose for Emily. Both works serve as strong evidence for Gloria Steinems opinion.
In The Story of an Hour Chopin implies an idea of that Mrs. Mallard lives as a prisoner. Maybe it is because she grew up in a society in which women used to be properties of men, she has not noticed that fact until she receives her husbands death news. Marriage did not really unify emotionally her life with her husbands. This can be seen in the lines, And yet she had loved him V sometimes. Often she had not (8). She lived with this man, saw him everyday, slept by his side every night, but she did not even love him. Is that a how a relationship between a couple supposed to be? All those years she spent with her husband were as alone as being a prisoner; isnt that sad? But everything is solved (she thought so), as Mr. Mallard is dead, at last she can be liberated from that prison, Free! Body and soul free (8). This is not a usual expression of a woman whose husband has just died; here we can understand how alone she has been. If we learn more about Kate Chopins background, we can find out that she lived in the nineteen century, when womens rights were limited. This story reflects the society in that age, then Mrs. Mallards represents the housewives in that time. Many of them get married with the man they dont love, and they spend their lives living alone emotionally.
In the other side we have another nineteenth century author, William Faulkner, who also wrote a short story about being alone, even his work does not focus that much on marriage. His idea of getting married to be alone is very strong, too. In A Rose for Emily, Faulkner interprets loneliness by telling Emilys life. This lady goes through several stages in which no word better than alone can describes, even though, she doesnt want to accept the truth. After her fathers death, she kept his body as if he were alive, She did that for three daysK trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. She denied his fathers death because she was afraid to be alone, she depended a lot on her father. Then she dated Homer Barron, it was a good chance to extricate herself from the loneliness. [People of the town] learned that Miss Emily had been to the jewelers and ordered a mans toilet set in silver, with the letters H.B. on each pieceK and [they] said, They are married. By her acts we can clearly see that Emily really wanted to marry Homer, so she wouldnt be alone any more. But he was a homosexual man, in that time considered as not a marrying man.
And for her, there is no way she can let this opportunity go away, so she decides to have this man together with her until her death separates them. She killed him, with the strongest poison she could find, I want some poison, she said to the druggistK I want the best you have. I dont care what kind. By this act we can see that she prefers be together with a dead man than to spend her life alone, but wait a minute; wouldnt she be alone any way if she lives with a dead man? Well, maybe she did not consider it in that way. The question is: would she be lonelier being with dead Homer or not doing it? Maybe if she has not lived with a dead man, she would have had her life more normal, even if she cannot find a husband after Homer, she could have had friends to share the rest of her life.
Although it is not their intentions, the protagonists of both stories get ended up alone. Both of them even died being alone at the end of the stories. (Of course, Mrs. Mallards death seems to be more tragic.) By telling two different stories in the same nineteen century time set, Kate Chopin and William Faulkner achieve to give shape to this irony: The surest way to be alone is to get married. Gloria Steinem.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. 1894. Rpt. in The International Story: An Anthology with Guidelines for Reading and Writing about Fiction. Ruth Spack. New York: St. Martins, 1994. 6-8.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. Spack 6 V 8.