BREAKDOWN OF A BODY PARAGRAPH



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Intimately connected with the theme of identity and selfhood is the theme of the role of women in marriage. Mrs. Mallard is known in the beginning of the story only as a wife; very little is revealed concerning Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s relationship. Even Louise is unsure whether or not they had been happily married: “And yet she had loved him—sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter!” (Chopin 75) Thus, the specifics of the relationship matter less than the conventions of marriage in general. In her article, “Kate Chopin’s Social Fiction,” Mary Papke, a noted Chopin critic, states, “Whether one is acting out of love or not, Chopin seems to be making a comment on nineteenth century marriages, which granted one person – the man-- right to own and dominate another—the woman.”(63) In modern times, this idea is foreign to many, especially women who consider themselves self-directed and autonomous, even if they are married. This theme, unpopular in an era when women were not even allowed to vote, is further examined in many of Chopin’s other works.