Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour and Gail Godwin’s A Sorrowful Woman are both similar pieces of literary work in that both stories offers a revealing glimpse of extremely unhappy marriages. Both Mrs. Mallard and the unnamed mistress in A Sorrowful Woman called (the wife) seem to reveal a problem or possibly a disease which is plainly inherited through the institution of there marriages. They are so unhappy with the lives they lead and the person(s) in them they seem to drive themselves to there own death.
The Story of an Hour seems to pick up in the middle of an on going battle of Mrs. Mallard’s feelings towards that of her husband Brantly Mallard, (which seems to be a decent guy from this short story introduction). This is why you really can not come to grasps with her hatred towards Mr. Mallard and why she feels it. There is little introduction of the husband Brantly Mallard which leaves any thought or opinions of him completely to the imagination, while in A Sorrowful Woman the wife seems to be a very selfish, and self centered person who can care only for herself. Godwin describes mostly all characteristics about the husband and wife in that the wife tells her husband that the sight of himself and the child made her so sick she did not want to see them ever again.
The husband being his very understanding self-comments “he understood such things, and asked what would she like him to do” (33).
In the begging Mrs. Mallard is so overwhelmingly happy (acting very distraught) to receive the telegram informing her of Mr. Mallard’s death but she had to conceal her happiness simply because there were loved ones in her presence including her sister Josephine and Mr. Mallard’s great friend Richard. It was he (Richard) who had received intelligence of the death as he was in the newspaper room and heard fist word of the rail road disaster with Brently Mallard’s name at the top of the death list. Josephine had delivered this information just before Mrs. Mallard had stormed off to her room for the concealment and solitude that she had needed (12-13).
For the wife in A Sorrowful Woman loneliness and solitude was all that she had wanted out of her family member role throughout the story. She was placed to bed the first night and was given a sleeping draught that was guaranteed to put her to rest swiftly after informing her husband that she wanted to be away and out of the sight of him and their little boy. For many days straight the wife remained there alone and to her self only to appear to wonder throughout the house aimlessly a few short times when the house was vacant.
For Mrs. Mallard remaining in her room resting in her roomy armchair staring aimlessly out of the open window was to rejoice and unleash her true feelings of Mr. Mallard’s death after a few short moments of morning (12). While in A Sorrowful Woman the wife was detained by her own state of misery and loneliness for she wanted
to be away from both her husband and her child also (the majority of the time) sitting in
her big chair staring out at the snow-ridden branches wearing her slacks and an old sweater (35).
While there is no major role playing by Mr. Mallard in The Story of an Hour the husband in A Sorrowful Woman tries to be very caring in every way possible to his wife. The day after everything took place he brought her breakfast in bed and let her lay to rest until it grew dark again, and after taking there son for a walk he brought her up a tray of buttered toast, celery sticks and soup. She says to him “I am the luckiest woman,” (crying) he then replies “nonsense, you need a rest from us,” referring to there son and himself (34). He would then continue to take over all of the house hold duties such as: fixing her meals/sleeping liquids, doing dishes, making dinner for the himself and there son, taking and picking up there son from school, and holding down his employment at the office as well. All of these chores were beginning to become too much for him to handle by himself so with his wife’s permission he hired in the perfect young girl that was very dynamic. After a short period of time the wife fired the girl because she had brought the child in to see his mother and he sat a grasshopper in her hand which made her become very irate. The husband then apologized to her and said he would take care of it but was very disappointed that he had to let the girl go. As time went by his wife became more and more distant moving into a room by her self, limiting the husband’s ability to see her, as well as her sons.
With the women from both stories still locked away in their rooms the time passes. As Mrs. Mallard is sitting in her chair whispering over and over “Free body and Sole free” her sister Josephine comes to the door and urges her to come out, so she finally does so and “carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” (14). She then clasped to her sister’s waist causing them both to descend down the stair with Richards waiting at the bottom. At that same moment in time the front door opens and Brently Mallard walks through the door with his gripsack and umbrella. He was no where near the accident and at that same moment Mrs. Mallard died with what the doctor called a heart disease. And as for the other distant wife on her last day of living she withdrew from what had became her domain for one last noble accomplishment. She had cooked supper to last many weeks, two weeks of fresh-laundered sheets, 5 loafs of bread, and had hand-knitted two matching sweaters. The man and child ran to the little room, could not contain themselves to knock flung back the door and there lie his wife/mother restless without the slightest movement and last deed; her freshly-washed hair.
In relationships people must work together as a family in order to survive and remain a hole. It is apparent in both The Story of an Hour and A Sorrowful Woman the families did not work together as one unit. It appeared both wives was so submerged in there own sorrow and grief that no matter how hard they could have tried they would have never nor ever wanted to see it through to have what once may have been and could have been a very beautiful relationship.