Comparing The Protagonists In Chopin And Steinbeck Essay

Length: 2 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Literature Type: Essay Paper: #39231159
Excerpt from Essay :

Elisa Allen is the protagonist of John Steinbeck's short story “The Chrysanthemums,” and Louise Mallard is the protagonist of Kate Chopin's “The Story of An Hour.” Both Elisa and Louise are products of their social and historical contexts, particularly when it comes to gender norms. Elisa and Louise are passive protagonists, because patriarchy has stripped them of political agency. By creating passive protagonists in their respective short stories, Steinbeck and Chopin make powerful social commentary about the role of women in their private and public lives.

Both Elisa and Louise feel stuck in their marriage, but perceive liberation as impossible within the confines of their culture. In both short stories, nature symbolizes wasted potential. For example, Elisa is capable of so much more than gardening: "The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy," (Steinbeck). Similarly, Louise realizes that...

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“She felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air," (Chopin). Nature also symbolizes fantasy and escape for both Elisa and Louise. For example, Elisa is most passionate when she speaks about chrysanthemums, especially with the man. For Louise, nature is literally what inspires her to escape as she confines herself to indoors and can only see nature from the window. When she stares out the window, she becomes lost in thought, her “gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought," (Chopin). However, nature also represents hope for Louise: “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life," (Chopin). Gardening also happens to symbolize Elisa's pent-up sexual energy. For instance, “ she was kneeling on the ground looking up at him. Her breast swelled passionately,” (Steinbeck). Sexual awakening does not happen for Louise, who remains repressed.

Both Elisa and Louise long to be liberated from a loveless marriage. Both protagonists are described as young and in their sexual prime, with Louise being described as “young” and “fair,” and Elisa as “lean and strong.” However, both are trapped in a loveless marriage. Henry is kind but protective of his wife and does…

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