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Patriarchal Society and the Erasure of the Female Self at The Story of an Hour Critical readings of Chopin's works frequently notice the strain between female characters and the society which surrounds them. Margaret Bauer suggests that Chopin is concerned with researching the most "dynamic interrelation between men and women, girls and patriarchy, even girls and women" (146). Many times, critics focus on the importance of battle in these works and the manner in which Chopin uses gender constraints on two degrees, to open an avenue for the discussion of female identity and, at the same time, to critique the patriarchal society that warrants that individuality. Kay Butler indicates that "entrapment, not liberty, is the origin of Chopin's inspiration, for she is mainly concerned with investigating the manner in which sex roles deny individuality"; she continues: "yet without the entrapment, the question of individuality, even the inspiration to write concerning individuality, wouldn't exist" (18). Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" most poignantly accounts the double focus of her work, describing the incipient awakening of Mrs. Mallard, and consequently exploring the possibility of female identity, even though, finally, denying that the fruition of such an experience. Like most of her works, this brief narrative reacts to a particular historical frame, the Cult of True Womanhood, in its indictment of patriarchal culture. Since Barbara Welter notes, in the nineteenth century, "a women judged herself and had been judged by her husband, her neighbors, and society" by the attributes of a True Woman which comprised, particularly, "purity" and "domesticity" (372). The concept of purity, because it suggested that women must maintain their merit, also, paradoxically, denied the...