Society the Gender Terrorist in The Necklace and The Story of an Hour

All of these elements support the theme of the oppressive, terrorizing control that society imposes on women’s lives through gender roles and expectations.These works are both in short story form that maximizes quick-paced plots. De Maupassant tells the tale of a woman’s story of fall to disgrace. Mathilde is a vain woman who is trapped inside a society that values materialism and teaches girls to desire materialism over independence. De Maupassant’s story is centered on Mathilde’s dissatisfaction with her life after being married to another commoner like her, when she feels that she was born for every delicacy and every luxury (de Maupassant, 1907, para.3). Instead of relying on herself to attain the life that she feels she deserves, she pressures her husband to give her the life she desires. Kleine-Ahlbrandt (2004) focused on the social-class analysis of The Necklace, where he asserted that the story is about the price to be paid for crass materialism and false pride (p.2). He does not include gender analysis, however, which can connect Mathilde’s pride and shallowness to the pressures of gender expectations. Materialism and pride are argued as social products too, and, in the case of Mathilde, she also has a vain and materialistic personality because of the materialistic French culture she belongs to (Kleine-Ahlbrandt, 2004, p.2) that conditions women to value things over more important aspects of their lives, including freedom and independence. The short story form allows de Maupassant to capture a plot that depicts the effects of social norms on gender expectations. Chopin did not need to write a novel to also explore the plot of social terrorism in The Story of an Hour. Instead, Chopin developed a quick-paced plot to describe how a womancan change in an hour, from someone having a dull stare in her eyes (Chopin, 1894, para.8) because of being a slave to a man’s will to drinking in [the] very elixir of life (Chopin, 1894, para.18) because with her husband dead, she is free at last.