The roles of women in the society have for centuries been defined by the stereotypes created and long sustained by men. Women have resolved to diverse tactics of dealing with their predicament, a phenomenon that the two short stories (A Rose for Emily and The Story of an Hour) explore. The two short stories provide a window into the thoughts and actions of women in fictitious form, bound by different time frames through imploring into the potent weaknesses of the feminine gender. The failure to make a decisive breakthrough from the domination of the male counterparts as well as the submissive nature of women has a devastating toll on women. The compliant attitude affects not only the realization of the dreams of the women, but also completely shatters their egos. While Emily espouses a well defined submissive nature, her desire to cling to the root causes of her troubles is difficult to understand, unlike Ms. Mallard, whose marriage life is virtually unknown to the reader, until the sight of her husband leads to her death. The two stories explore the dynamics of the society and the expectations of the woman in times of courtship as well as marriage life. The silent escape routes all refer to the strength of the socially defined roles which women are unable to withstand or overcome.
In ‘A Rose for Emily,’ the tyrannical rule of Emily’s father on daughter- Emily proves a strong point in the determination of her destiny. Dependence on the wills and whims of her father does enough to shape her up, till the time he dies leaving her with nothing but her history with him. The encompassing relationship ended by death is unbearable and thus she clings on his body instead of letting him be buried. This portrays a kind of bond between father and daughter, a form that can be illustrated y the societal conception of how daughters were supposed to relate with parents. The life of Emily is dramatically illustrated to have been controlled and destroyed by her father and the power of tradition in Jefferson after her slump into madness. The defining moments in her life are paramountly shaped by men, a sure sign that women have little on no place in the decision making table.
In the initial stage of the story, Faulkner juxtaposes the men with the women of Jefferson. The motivation behind their attending the funeral is different with the men eager to show respect and affection to Emily whilst the women simply want to quench their nosiness. Except Emily, the womenfolk come across as rumor mongers and their continued gossips about Emily run from her times when she was alive till and after her death. This distinction clearly shows a potent weakness of the female gender unlike the male counterparts who seem concerned about tax issues and that is all they contact Emily for.
After two men desert her, Emily has no more left and she has to hang onto the effects that deserted her. This spurs her love and hate feelings into a crazy action. The influential domination on her by the male counterparts and the bottled up feelings spur her into action, prompting her killing of the third man in her life and keeping him lest he deserts her. The purported strength of the women is hinged on her ability to hold onto the pressures but in the case of Emily, she has to deal with the death of her father and a man different from her preferred suitor coming into her life. Though ailing, the same hate/love situation is presented in the case of ‘The Story of an Hour’ where a woman has to mourn her late husband whom she completely doubts whether she completely loved. Although Emily seems willing to hold onto the men who have devastatingly ruined her life, Mrs. Mallard feels completely free and her belated death could be explained as prompted by the loss of freedom in the re-appearance of a ‘dead’ Mr. Mallard.
The new revelations on her married life usher in a reflective period of truth and immense knowledge which ironically causes her death. The brief moment of true illumination on her role in her marriage lead to shock when she sees her husband alive, and for a patient of heart attack it is understandable that she passes on. Defined by name and what she is taken for as Mrs. Mallard, her true name is only used in her room when her sister takes her out of her room. This clearly shows a woman who is overshadowed by her husband in everything, lives by her husband and is defined by who her husband is. Louise is her name, but only once is it used, a factor that shows the societal conception on the role and place of women and that is what Chopin is privy to..
Comparatively though, both women treat their predicament not with sorrow or complains, but with an inner strength difficult to understand. Wherever Emily gets all the energy to kill Homer Baron as well as the long years sustained by Mrs. Mallard in an oppressive marriage shows just how much the women are strong. Emily is able to stand strong with the help of a man servant- a Negro, who probably handled all her household chores, a task left to the womenfolk. The two women are able to stand a lifetime of repression and male domination and probably in a reflection of the truth, come out with little or no success at all. Thus the roles of women remain pegged on the determination of the male domain.
To conclude, it is imperative to note that the roles of women are much determined by their domineering opposing gender. With little action going up in the early feminist movements, the authors aimed at appealing to the male masses on the emotional burden placed on their backs, probably aiming at an ultimate change or a kind of an understanding from the male gender. However, at the end of their death neither of the probable targets of feminist movement enthusiasts is achieved. The literary guru’s imperatively stay in touch with societal reality by ensuring a pinpoint conclusion which reverts back to the real human nature. Thus, the roles of women stay unchanged in the end and remain within the definitions of the society.