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Compare and Contrast the Authors' Presentation of the Relationship between Men and Women in a Selection of 19th Century Short Stories

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast the Authors' Presentation of the Relationship between Men and Women in a Selection of 19th Century Short Stories Relationships between men and women in the 19th century were very different to that of today. Marriages tended to be arranged. It was often that women did not have much choice in the relationship and became almost a possession of that man after marriage. For example after marriage a woman would lose all her possessions to here husband. Women did not have much independence and often were left to do hard labouring work such as washing up, cooking, scrubbing dirty clothes and cleaning. Due to this lack of independence and hard labour many women seemed to marry the richest men they could find, as then they would have little work and some independency, because of this the relationships sometimes lacked the love and free will that people can share today. The women are left dependent on men. The five short stories on the 19th century, 'The Story of an Hour', 'The Kiss', 'A Women's Rose', 'The Necklace' and 'The Unexpected' by Guy de Maupassant, Kate Chopin and Olive Schreiner all show women encaged in 19th century relationships. With these stories as was typical at the time they all give the reader an initial relationship to go on, then a twist or hope is added and by the end the readers initial thoughts on the relationship/s are changed. In the 19th Century there were clear wealth barriers. There was the higher class, the middle class and the working class. The short stories based on the 19th Century show us these barriers and the relationships between men and women in that time. In 'The Necklace' the wealth barrier is clearly show. This story focuses on not only the relationship between men and women but also on wealth and the desire for it by some women in the 19th Century. ...read more.

Middle

Initially she tells the readers about a rose in her old, brown, carved box suggesting it is precious to her. This sets the scene. She describes to the reader that when she was a fifteen-year-old girl she went to a village where the population consisted mainly of men. There was only one other woman who was an idle for all the men at the time, they surrounded her and wanted her. This seems to be an unlikely relationship as the woman is in complete control. This is an unlikely situation in the 19th century. In typical 19th century stories often a new hope or the introduction of an alternative relationship is added. This is possibly the most clear in 'The Story of an Hour' by Kate Chopin. Mrs Mallard shuts herself in her room after hearing the news about her dead husband. She looks out the window of her house and sees the tops of trees 'aquiver with new spring life', the 'delicious breath of rain was in the air', the 'sparrows [were] twittering in the eaves' and 'some one was singing'. All of these connote new life, a fresh start. There were 'patches of blue sky' showing through the clouds from Mrs. Mallard's window. The 'piled' up clouds could symbolise the darkness she feels right now from the loss of her husband. However the patches of blue sky symbolise hope for the future and the beginning of spring and spring symbolises new life. The elements are symbolising Mrs. Mallard's feelings. The author uses pathetic fallacy. Mrs. Mallard realises that she has the chance of a new life, an independent one, 'free, free, free!' Another 19th Century story that introduces hope like in 'The Story of an Hour' is in 'The Necklace'. Mme Loisel finally gets her pleaded for dress and jewellery. This gives her the ability, courage and confidence to be 'a tremendous success' at the party and feel equal with all the upper class guests. ...read more.

Conclusion

The necklace appears to symbolise wealth and happiness but the necklace itself turns out to be a fake and this portrays back to the whole story where Mme. Loisel has been wearing it, it has been a superficial wealth and happiness. The author describes her pleasure going to the head 'like wine' this simile suggests that her pleasure is fake like the necklace and also like when you are drunk a hangover will follow. The hangover could be argued either way that it was when the necklace was lost or when she comes back to reality of her middle class life. Also when dancing she is described as moving in 'a happy mist' the word mist seems to conceal her and again suggest superficiality. In 'The Unexpected' the way Dorothea reads the letters to tatters could also symbolise the state that their relationship was now in, tatters. To conclude all five stories present us with different types of relationships between men and women in the 19th century. It is clear in most of these that women are forced into dependence resulting in childlike behaviour and desperation to achieve love and independence. Stories such as 'The story of an Hour' and 'The Unexpected' conclude suggesting that a single life is better off for women in the 19th century. 'The Necklace however shows the strength of the married couple towards the end as the repay their debts and that they are better off for it. From changing status and charge they both finish equal in their relationship and share of work. 'A Woman's Rose' shows that by the end the most meaningful relationship between men and women was that of a friendship between two women. 'The Kiss' represents that the woman can be in charge but it will not last in the 19th century as the men always have the last say. In all these short stories the writers have tried to show the reader how women in the 19th century were to live, in dependence and without much choice, and how from that some still have the chance to achieve a happy fulfilled life. ...read more.

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