Liberation Essay, Research Paper
“The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour” expresses the attitudes of two women’s
rebirth and liberation. These two stories are alike in several ways. Natures plays a major
role in both of these women’s lives. Calixta and Mrs. Louise Mallard struggle to find
their independence and in doing so the endings are triumphant and tragic.
“The Storm” begins on a stormy spring day, with the protagonist Calixta at her sewing machine. She is alone, her husband Bobinot and son Bibi have gone to the store. Calixta seems to be a bored woman, confined to her duties as a housewife and mother. As the distant storm approaches she is unaware of what the storm brings, her former lover Alcee. Calixta allows Alcee into her home and opens her whole world to him. There is a connection between the storm that is going on outside and the storm of emotions going on in Calixta and Alcee. The weather sends Calixta into Alcee’s arms, he wraps his arms around her, and they can no longer hide their feelings for one another. They gave into their raging emotions and made love. Outside the weather was subsiding and Calixta and Alcee’s bodies felt relaxed and calmed. “The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems.” (1614) His face beamed with light like the sun. The storm inside of her was satisfied and for a brief instant Calixta felt liberated from her ordinary dull life.
Unlike Calixta, Louise Mallard is a fragile woman afflicted with heart trouble. It comes to her attention through a trustworthy friend that her husband, Brently Mallard has been killed in a railroad disaster. She is overcome with intense grief and instantly weeps over the loss of her husband. Mrs. Mallard retreats to the solitude of her bedroom to
mourn the death of her husband. Suddenly she feels a sense of liberation. Nature also plays a part in Mrs. Mallard feeling the way she does, just as it did with Calixta in “The Storm.” Mrs. Mallard has just learned of a horrible death but yet she could not help but see that the trees were blooming with new spring life; there was new fallen rain, and birds were singing. The rain, as it did in “The Storm,” replenished and allowed nature to grow just as the news would allow Mrs. Mallard to grow as a reborn, liberated women, free from bondage. “And yet she loved him – sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter!” (21) It seems as if she is trying to convince herself there is nothing wrong with her feeling this way. There was something about the thought of living for herself, she would no longer have anyone to answer to, she was free to be herself, and most of all free to love again. “Free! Body and soul free!” (21) Mrs. Mallard was not making herself ill as her sister had thought. She was taking in an elixir of life. It was almost as is her body had been healed. The heavy weight that was once on her chest and heart had been lifted. Louise emerges from her bedroom a liberated woman and as she descends the stairs she is brought back to reality by Brently Mallard opening the front door. She collapses and dies perhaps from the shock of losing her freedom once again.
“The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour” end very differently. “The Storm” ends on a happy note with the family having a feast of a dinner and laughing so loud anyone might have heard them. Calixta was unfaithful to her husband and feels no remorse for what she has done. She was an unhappy housewife and was bored with her daily routine but Alcee changed that. He came in and added a little spice to her life and brought out a reborn woman that had been lost.
“The Story of an Hour” is a tragedy. In a sense Mrs. Mallard is being unfaithful to her dead husband because she feels free from his restraints. She is more worried about her personal gain rather than the death of her husband. In the end her blindness to mortality slaps her in the face. For now she is the one being mourned.
The women in these stories have limited freedom. They were married during a time when it was not uncommon for women to raise many children, cook, clean, wash, and work on the farm. Although much is unknown about Calixta’s family life we believe her to be a hard working wife, mother, and woman. We see this in the first few paragraphs; she is busy sewing, getting things ready for dinner, bringing in the clean dry clothes, and shutting up the house before the storm. Any women would need a release from this and Alcee was Calixta’s release. Although if anyone would have found out about her affair or if Bobinot and Bibi had come in Calixta’s fate may have been the same as Mrs. Mallards. Alcee’s wife, Clarisse also longed for her freedom, she was
enjoying the liberty of her maiden days and was not ready to see her husband quite yet.
“The Storm” replenished Calixta’s relationship with Bobinot and rejuvenated her life with her family much like the storm does with the earth; in fact it made everything happier and stronger. The storm between them gave them new life and satisfaction. Calixta felt like she had been reborn, and could once again appreciate everything she has.
Mrs. Mallard’s freedom did not last but a few moments. Her reaction to the news of the death of her husband was not the way most people would have reacted. We do not know much about Mr. And Mrs. Mallards relationship. We gather from the text that her freedom must have been limited in some way for her to be feeling this way. Years ago women were expected to act a certain way and not to deviate from that. Mrs. Mallard could have been very young when she and Brently were married. She may not have had the opportunity to see the world through a liberated woman’s eyes and she thought now was her chance.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Literature For Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet,
et al. New York: 1996. 12-13
Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” The Norton Anthology. Ed. Nina Baym, et al. New York: