The Story of an Hour
The historical context of “The Story of an Hour” dates back to the late 1800’s. It was published in 1984 by Kate Chopin. She was a well- known American Novelist and short story writer who is a strong believer in female’s independence. The story was published around the time society questioned women’s roles. Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is a short story of the view of a married women and the challenges she endured in her relationship coping with her spouse. Family relationships, especially involving spouses can create difficulties and challenges for one or the other. Women wanting to have freedom, having to deal with an illness, and their position in the household can create challenges. As a women of her times Louise Mallard needs self-identity. She is longing for the day were she can experience life for herself. The lack of being able to make her own choices leads her to do what is expected of her. Louise has suppressed herself and her emotion simply because she is a women. In her day it was common knowledge that marriage was not always about mutual love between two people. There was no children mentioned in the story. It seems from the description that Mrs. Mallard has been trapped in this marriage for a long time even though she was young. It is believe that she was coerced by her society to marry despite what she wanted in her heart and soul. She does love her husband but it is possible to love a man and not be married by him. Louise is the character of interest-through her we see the social repression that women felt at the time. They were locked in marriage that was probably loving. Louise say’s her husband “never looked at her save with love”. (Chopin 150 ). In her time it was probably a common practice for this kind of treatment with women. Being told of Brentlys (her husband) death, she “did not take the news as many women have.” ( Chopin 152) After being told the news of his death, Louise goes to her room and looks out the window. The hope of the happiness that she feels at the time of being set free. Mrs. Mallard kept whispering to herself upon hearing the passing of her husband. She said it over, and over under her breath: Free, free, free!” (Chopin 152) Mrs. Mallard felt at that moment that her husband’s grasp on her was gone. She was no longer a prisoner. Instead of being a gloomy and dark sky it shows patches of blue clouds, birds are singing and there is a “delicious breathe of rain in the air.” (Chopin150) It is told to us early on that Mrs. Mallard suffered from a heart condition. A women who instead of being upset and heartbroken over her husband’s death is experiencing complete joy over the death of another human being. This gives off the impression that she had been mistreated in this relationship and perhaps this death is for the best. At the end it is Mrs. Mallard who dies upon seeing her husband alive and well. When Brently returns, Louise drops dead. It is known that she had a weak heart. It was explained to her husband carefully in orders to prevent an adverse reaction. The doctors assumed she died at his sight from the “joy” of seeing him. “The joy that kills” ( Chopin150) they called it.
In conclusion, in the “Story of an Hour” written by Kate Chopin a strong believer in female’s independence. She writes the story of a women, Lousie Mallard, going from mourning the death of her husband to coming to realize her new found freedom. Freedom came but was not what anyone expected. The freedom she longed for, the illness she suffered with, and the position she was placed in created challenges in her life. Social repression of a women was common around the late 1800’s. Most women had little if no self-identity. Mrs. Mallard longed for the day were she could experience freedom for herself. She eventually received the freedom she was looking for, from Brentlys death to his return was her hour of joy. This story goes under the Bad Love section. It is really sad to be married and not fell loved. It is even worse to fell freedom, and joy after finding out a loved one has died.
Delbanco & Cheuse. Literature: Craft and Voice, 2nd Ed. McGraw-Hill, 2012.
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