The Female Consciousness: Analysis Of Louise And Judith in Kate Chopin's And Virginia Woolf's Works

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Female consciousness is an important part of feminism. It means that women are aware of their inferior position in society. The Story of an Hour and Shakespeare’s sister are both emphasis on Feminism. The former was written by Kate Chopin (1850–1904) who was an American writer, the latter was written by Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) who an English writer, they were both the famous Feminist Female Authors of the 19th century. In this essay, I argue initially that the protagonists in both stories have realized that they have to escape from the cruel reality and their awakening of feminist consciousness which shows in their pathetic situation.

Both of the protagonists in the stories are finally realized the falsehood in their life. In The Story of an Hour, it depicts the protagonist Louise has complicated emotions after she has been informed that her husband died in an accident. At first, she was out of control and felt mournful, however, she soon awaking from grief and imaging a wonderful future in her mind with free body and soul which may benefit from the death of her husband. It can be seen that Louise was eager for her freedom, she wanted to set herself free. In the Shakespeare’s sister, describes the protagonist Judith who was young and passionate, she has the artistic talent the same as her brother, she was eager for knowledge and curious about the world. However, Judith did not have the educational opportunity the same as her brother did. Besides, when Judith left for London to pursue her dream to be an actress, she did not be treated as good as her brother because she is a female. The protagonists in the two stories were both lived in a society that there are restrictions on women’s rights, both of the protagonists realized the falsehood in their life. For Louise, she started imaging the life’s beauty without her husband, for Judith, she left for London to pursue her dream imaging she could have an amazing experience just like her brother.

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The falsehoods in Louise and Judith’s stories are the keys to their awakening of feminist consciousness. In The Story of an Hour, the falsehood of the news of her husband’s death gives the protagonist an awakened signal. According to Norma Basch observation in Invisible Women: The Legal Fiction of Marital Unity in Nineteenth-Century America. in that period, marriage was a form of slavery, the husband owns the wife, owns her services and even her earning. The protagonist Louise was eager for her freedom he has imaged the beauty of life when she heard the bad news of her husband’s death, and she no longer needs to be owned by her husband. She chose to walk out of the house to have her real freedom. In the Shakespeare’s sister, Judith thinks she might have the treatment as good as her brother did, but the truth was not what she expected. Judith awaken from her current situation that she can not go to school like her brother, even she left for London to pursue the dream as an actress she still can not have what her brother have even she has the same talent as her brother, it can bee seen that woman and man do not have the same rights in that period, there is no gender equity in that period. The falsehoods in both stories are the keys to their awaking, leading them to think more that they deserve better.

The two protagonists in the stories end up with a depressed ending, however, it implies the awakened soul and their awakening of feminist consciousness. In The Story of an Hour, the protagonist Louise was declared by doctor that she died of heart attack because she was “too happy” to see her husband’s ironic return, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg and Charles Rosenberg’s insights in The Female Animal: Medical and Biological Views of Woman and Her Role in Nineteenth-Century America, some of the America women were beginning dissatisfied with their traditional roles and numerous numbers of women began to see family limitation as a necessity if they would preserve health, status, economic security, and individual autonomy in that period. Louise did not die of joy because of her husband’s return, she died of desperation. Her hope of getting rid of the marriage, her desire for freedom and happiness were all gone because the return of her husband. Her dead implies that death is the only way to be free. It reflects the cruel reality of the patriarchal society and women’s bondage in the 19th century. Judith, she was a victim of this pathetic society, she was awakening from the cruel reality, she has known that she deserves better but powerless to change the fact and situation. Her dissatisfaction could only be voiced out if she died. In Shakespeare’s sister, the protagonist Judith, Shakespeare’s sister killed herself at the end of the story. It reflects that women faced different difficulties like social, educational and financial problems in that period. Judith could not be strong enough in that society because she was a woman. This ending of the protagonist shows us what will be the ending of talented women. The protagonist Judith’s sufferings are the fact of gender inequality in that period, there was discrimination against women. Both of the protagonists in two stories Louise and Judith Shakespeare are seen both discouraged and eventually defeated by falsehood. From observation, it is more seems like the protagonists have realized their inferior position in that society and made their own choice to pursue what they want. The social discrimination against women, the patriarchal constraints and the gender inequity all those difficulties women had encountered were the reasons for the tragic ending of the stories. The tragic ending does not mean that the protagonists were defected by the cruel reality. In fact, it symbolizes a final victory for them, their awakening of feminist consciousness, their awareness of fighting back for themselves, it was said that both of the protagonists were dead, but they finally have their way to free themselves, this could be a real victory for them instead of defeating by falsehood or the cruel reality.

In conclusion, through analyzing the protagonists Louise and Judith in The Story of an Hour and Shakespeare’s sister, it is observed that the awakening of feminist consciousness is the main message that the stories want to convey. Significantly, in The Story of an Hour, Louise was eager for freedom, she was the desire to get rid of the marriage and be herself and live her life,she wanted to fight back but she was too powerless to change the cruel reality that marriage was a form of slavery. However, it can seem that her awakening of feminist consciousness. In Shakespeare’s sister, Judith, Shakespeare’s sister was a talented woman and wanted to experience the world and be an actress however she was discriminated, the society denied her, same as The Story of an Hour’s protagonist, Louise, Judith was too powerless to fight with the cruel reality since women faced numerous difficulties in that period, but used their way to express their mind.

  1. Basch, Norma. “Invisible Women: The Legal Fiction of Marital Unity in Nineteenth-Century
  2. America.” Feminist Studies 5.2 (1979): 346–66. JSTOR. Web. 30 Oct. 2008.
  3. The Journal of American History, Vol. 60, No. 2 (Sep., 1973), pp. 332-356


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