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Women and Social Change

There is little argument that roles for women have changed over the past 100 years. From being granted the right to vote, the WomenÆs Movement, equal pay for equal work legislation, and the slow but sure dismantling of the ôglass ceilingö in organizations and corporations, womenÆs roles are much expanded and more diverse than they were 100 years ago. In the short stories of Kate Chopin, Anton Chekov, and Guy de Maupassant, we see women whose roles and forms of expression were highly regulated by patriarchal societies and a rigid social order. Despite the obvious social changes for women since the time these stories were written, author Deborah Tannen (1994) contends that women are still subjected to many forms of oppression in a male-dominated society. Even so, the broadening of roles and increased expression of women over the past 100 years represents great progress for women than when The Story of an Hour, The Lady with the Dog, and The Necklace were written.

In The Story of an Hour, we see a woman react quite strangely to the news that her husband has died in a train crash. As the narrator tells us, ôShe did not hear the story as many women would have heard the sameö (Chopin 2004). The woman feels freed by the event because of being forced to live under the control of her husband in an era where such a relationship was the norm for married women. Upon hearing the news she sits and appreciates the trees ôall aquiver with the new spring lifeö (Chopin 2004). When she finally makes her way home, she drops dead at the site of her husband, who has not died in the crash. She does so not from the shock of seeing someone presumed dead alive, but because she understands she will have to go back to her oppressed life under his control. Women are much freer to express themselves and maintain an identity that is independent of their husbands in todayÆs society. Women even maintain their maiden names qui


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Women and Social Change. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:31, February 26, 2017, from