Story Of An Hour Essay, Research Paper
“The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, is a story of a woman who, through the erroneously reported death of her husband, experienced true freedom. Both tragic and ironic, the story deals with the boundaries imposed on women by society in the nineteenth century. The author, Kate Chopin, like the character in her story, had first-hand experience with the male-dominated society of that time and had experienced the death of her husband at a young age (Internet). The similarity between Kate Chopin and Louise Mallard can only leave us to wonder how much of this story is fiction and how much is personal experience. Indeed, Louise Mallard and Kate Chopin’s lives are very similar and ironic. Louise’s life began once she came to the realization that she could live for herself. During this “hour” she felt true joy and freedom, but her life ended abruptly as her husband walked through the door. Like Mrs. Mallard, Chopin’s writing career began once her husband died. She wrote a few collections of short stories, but when she began expressing her feminist views, the critics walked through the door and her life as a writer was over.
The setting of the story takes place at the Mallard’s house when Richards and Josephine find out that Mrs. Mallard’s husband, Brently, has been killed in a train accident. Mrs. Mallard has a heart disease, so Richards and Josephine decide to tell her as gently as possible so she will not find out somewhere else and suffer from a heart attack. On the “snorkel” level, the story appears to be about how Mrs. Mallard deals with the news of the death of her husband. On a “scuba” level, however, the story is about the feeling of intense joy that Mrs. Mallard experiences when she realizes that she is free from the influences of her husband and the consequences of finding out that her new-found freedom is not to be. In this wonderful short story, Chopin explains that freedom and life should exist together, or not at all.
Freedom is what Louise Mallard longs for. Mrs. Mallard reacts very different to the news, than a normal wife might react to the death of her husband. She loves her husband but is not happy with her life. After the tragic news, she envisions her life as being fuller. She does not give herself time to think upon the subject, but immediately starts sobbing because that was the reaction she thought she should give. Chopin writes, “she did not hear the story as many women have heard the same…she wept at once” (par.3). This was not a reaction of just emotions, but also of how she thought she should react in front of her family and friends. After locking herself in the solitude of her bedroom, she begins to recognize things that one might not think of after a loved one has just passed away. “ She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life (par. 5).“ This is the point at which she begins to deal with the grieving process, but also starts to realize the beauty of life. She begins to see that there is so much more to live for. “ She sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body “(par. 4). She tries to soothe her hurt and pain, for she can feel the toll it is taking on her heart. She can feel her heart starting to fail her, but she starts to envision her life as being better. “Free, free, free“ (par. 11), Louise chanted. She feels free because Brently is dead, and she can now do everything she’s ever dreamed of. “There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window” (par. 6).” The clouds piled on top of each other represent her heart problem, her husband’s death, and the other bad things that have bombarded her at once. The patches of blue sky represent the hope of her new and better life that she wants to begin. The hope those things can get better. She understood that there would be no suppression any more, no “powerful will bending” her personality. Filled with the feeling of happiness and vision of the free life, Mrs. Mallard came out of the room. Exactly at this moment, when everything was so excellent, the disaster struck.
Brently Mallard, who was supposed to be dead, entered the house. He reentered Louise’s world and put an end to her new life. Mrs. Mallard knew that all her dreams, visions, and plans, were ruined. At that instant, she was faced with reality. She realized that with his return, nothing would go the way she planned. The life that she hated so much was not going to change. She realized that she would live as Brently’s wife for the rest of her existence, and never experience true freedom. The same “gray cloud” covered her and the particles of her broken dreams. Unfortunately, Louise couldn’t tolerate the returning of her husband, and she collapsed with a heart attack. As doctors said afterwards, it was the “joy” that killed her. Rather than having freedom and life together, Louise chose to not have life at all. Ironically, even though her life was cut short, she left it happily to go on, perhaps, to a place where she’d be free forever!