The women protagonists in "the story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck and "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner are deeply repressed. In “The Story of an Hour”, Mrs. Mallard received the inaccurate shocking news of her husband - Brently Mallard’s death in a railroad accident (Chopin, 213). In the second story "The Chrysanthemums" Elisa, a young married woman who works in an isolated farm is proud of her skills in growing flowers. Her attempts to communicate with the outside world end up in disappointment through the mockery subjected to her by her husband and the other men-folk in the immediate environment (Steinbeck). In the third story, “A Rose for Emily” Miss Greirson is depicted as a black woman who was constantly harassed by authorities over tax and other allegations. This happened sometime after her father’s death and continued as such until her death, which occurred in isolation and loneliness. The three stories attest to the injustices that women in ancient societies had to death with in terms of occupation, human rights, and property rights among several other issues evident in the stories.
The three women had some sort of injustice or repression done onto them. Local authorities led by Colonel Sartoris- the mayor harassed Miss Emily Grierson frequently over tax remittance. Miss Emily’s father had loaned money to the town after which the Mayor issued a decree that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron or remitted her taxes. Miss Emily received several letters asking her to appear to the mayor although she never went out at all (Faulkner). Notably, her sweetheart had also unfairly deserted her while some people invaded her home to establish whether she was the source of certain foul smells. In the case of Elisa, she was hardworking and very good at growing flowers but her husband treated her unfairly and unjustly. After promising her a dinner out and getting her excited, Henry put on his joking tone and said to Elisa, "There are fights tonight. How'd you like to go to the fights?”(Steibeck, 240) Elisa does not get it that Henry is joking. He promises to take her out for dinner and a movie and on their way there late that evening Elisa raises the issue of the fights. Henry answers her harshly and she felt bitter and cried, " she turned up her coat collar so he could not see that she was crying weakly － like an old woman” (Steinbeck, 246). Elisa probably cried because she thought it unfair and unjust for her husband to treat her harshly yet she works so hard at the farm.
In the case of Mrs. Mallard, she was the victim of unverified claims that her husband had perished in a railroad disaster. When the husband later reappeared, she got fatally shocked (Chopin, 214). Although she was young, and had a fair, calm face, she bore lines that bespoke of repression. She had a dull stare in her eyes cut a figure of loneliness (Chopin, 214. Nature had been unfair to her to “snatch her husband” away from her, since it seemed that her husband- Brently Mallard was her closest companion. Strangely, when she received news of her husband’s death a little word escaped her lips and she said it under her breath, “free, free, free!” (Chopin, 214). As such, it is evident that the loss of Mr. Brently Mallard gave Mrs. Mallard freedom! It is, therefore, absurd and unjust that Mrs. Mallard mourned bitterly for man hat could have been denying her freedom and happiness. Her death upon the appearance of her husband, adds to the unjust events and sorry tale of Mrs. Mallard.
The three women protagonists live lonely lives. In the story about Miss Emily Grierson she is said to have lived in isolation and great loneliness. Upon her death, “the whole town went to her funeral” (Faulkner) because they wanted to have a peek into her life which had been lived in isolation. The women went “out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save for an old man-servanthad seen in the last ten years” (Faulkner). In the story about "the chrysanthemums", Elisa is said to live in a lonely and secluded place-the Salinas Valley. When her husband-Henry Allen was talking to a two men over a business deal, Elisa cut a lonely figure. She was watching them from a distance and her husband never consulted or involved her in the deal. In the story about Mrs. Mallard, when she received the news of her husband’s death and was mourning, “she would have no one follow her.” (Faulkner). These incidents and depictions show that the three women were lonely and lived in isolation against their wish, which caused them misery.
All three women protagonists lack children. Upon receiving the news of her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard wept and grieved alone. She just had the company of her sister, Josephine, and Her Husband’s friend Richard. The closest family relations to Miss Emily Grierson were her father and there is no mention that she ever had children of her own or even enjoyed the company of any other children. Although newly married and of the right childbearing age, 35 years, Mrs. Elisa Allen is not mentioned and having any children. In many societies and especially the ancient societies, women were associated with home chores and child rearing. The depiction of each of the three women as lacking children paints them in bad light. It is repressive to depict the women as lacking children since childlessness was and still is largely blamable on women.
The physical environment in which the three women live is repressive. The Salinas Valley in which Elisa and her husband live is a gloomy and secluded place. The valley was enclosed by “the high grey-flannel fog of winterthe sky and from all the rest of the world”. “On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot” (Steinbeck, 241). Further, ahead the author states, “there was no sunshine in the valley” (Steinbeck, 241). The absence of sunshine and the mention of gloom and fog hanging over the Salinas Valley points to lack of happiness in the life of Elisa. It shows that the world had also conspired to deny her of happiness. Miss Grierson is also depicted as living in an environment that was gloomy, unwelcoming, and lonely. “only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores” (Faulkner). Upon receiving the news of her husband’s death, the author depicts Mrs. Mallard’s environment as somber, lonely, unwelcoming, unhappy, and repressive to someone who is grieving. “There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window” (Chopin, 213). The mention of clouds hanging over the women, desolation, desertion and other related issues all point to repression of the women protagonists.
The three women are hard workers whose work, effort, and feelings go unnoticed. Although Elisa was very good at growing flowers, her husband seemed not to appreciate that enough and wished she could do some other work in a similar manner. "Some of those yellow chrysanthemums you had this year were ten inches across. I wish you'd work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big." (Steinbeck, 242). The indication of her eyes sharpening points to her displeasure with that comment but she could not argue with her husband. She just admitted, probably with some annoyance, that maybe she could do it too because she had a gift with things, all right. Earlier Henry had told Elisa “you’ve got a gift with things” (Steinbeck, 242). Miss Grierson had a “been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of heredity obligation upon the town” (Faulkner). She had been an iconic figure of repression of women since 1894 in her hometown. However, at her death she led a solitary and unappreciated life. Mrs. Mallard loved her husband although he could have been mistreating her because his death gave made her feel “free”. She was also weak in the body, “as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been”. As such, it seems unfair and unjust for her to bear the blunt of unverified news about death of a loved one.
The three women faced mockery from other people. Miss Grierson was the victim of unjustified attacks by the mayor over tax remittances. Four men also crossed Miss Emily’s lawn and slink about the house like buglers, sniffing her house. The men did so without her consent to establish whether it was the source of some smells. In the story about Elisa, she had a demeaning encounter with a big stubble-bearded man who wanted to use trickery to do some business of sharpening tools and repairing pots at their home. The man was insistent and seems to have been undermining Elisa. In the case of Mrs. Mallard, she had her husband’s friend, Richard as the one who broke the news of her husband’s death. This happened although authorities or medics had not verified the death of Mr. Brently Mallard
The women protagonists in "The Story of an Hour", "The Chrysanthemums" and "A Rose for Emily" are deeply repressed. Men women treat the women unjustly and in an unfair manner. The women are also depicted as being in environments that are either cloudy, gloomy and unwelcoming or lonely and unhappy. They all have some loneliness by either staying alone in their houses such as Miss Grierson or in unaffectionate relationships such as Mrs. Mallard. They are also lack children and are all victims of intrusions by people that are not close family relatives. The three women are also hardworking (Elisa and Miss Grierson) or caring (Mrs. Mallard) but the people in their lives do not appreciate them. If anything, the people around them demean and demoralize them as noted Henry Allen’s behavior where instead of appreciating his wife, all he could ask for was for her to tend to the oranges. In the end, repression causes the deaths of Mrs. Mallard and Miss Grierson while Elisa is heartbroken and unhappy with her husband’s mockery and lack of appreciation for her gardening efforts.
Chopin, Kate. “The story of an Hour”. Short fiction: Classic and contemporary. 4th ed. Eds. Charles Bohner and Dean Dougherty. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 1999. 213-214. Print
Faulkner, William, “A Rose for Emily”
Steinbeck, John. "The Chrysanthemums." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 6th ed. New York: Harper Collins, 1995. 239-47.