One Hour Of Freedom Essay, Research Paper
One Hour of Freedom
“The Story of An Hour,” by Kate Chopin, is a story about a woman experiencing true freedom, through the death of her husband. The story deals with the limitations that were forced on women by society in the eighteen hundreds. When Louise found out her husband was dead she felt her life about to begin. She realized that suddenly she was free to live and think for herself. However, her life ended almost as quickly as her new life began when she saw her husband walk through the door. “The Story of An Hour” is an extraordinary story that shows the readers Chopin’s point of view about marriage. Chopin states to her readers that marriage represses women and bends their spirit. The theme of the story is that hope and freedom can spring from the lifting of oppressive bindings. By graphic characterization, imagery, and setting the reader learned that even one hour of freedom is worth more than the “bending in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin 340).
The first paragraph of the story describes the way society of the eighteen hundreds perceived women. When Choplin introduces the character Mrs. Mallard, she describes her by stating, ” . . . that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart trouble” (340). In this way the reader is told that Mrs. Mallard is weak, as women were thought to be in this era. As the line continues the readers are also made aware of the opinion of women in this society. Chopin’s opinion that women are thought of as frail, over emotional, and dependent upon their husbands, is expressed in these words, ” . . . great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (340). The author illustrates that Mrs. Mallard ” was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression…” (Chopin 340). This description seems to tell the reader that Mrs. Mallard had been trapped in this marriage for a long time, even though she was young. Married life was unsatisfactory for her. Her situation is disclosed by Chopin when she writes, “It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder life might be long” (340). Mrs. Mallard wanted to be freed and her husband’s death gave her that freedom.
Through detailed imagery Chopin expresses the emotions of Mrs. Mallard. The welling of these emotions starts with “the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life” (340). After leaving the readers with this hint at freedom Chopin goes on to state, “the delicious breath of rain was in the air”, leaving the readers with another suggestion of hope (340). Further description states that there were “patches of blue sky” which seems symbolic of the hope of freedom surfacing through the sadness and sorrow of her husband’s death (Chopin 340). Chopin suggests that Mrs. Mallard is looking forward to the future and glad of the passing of her oppression by stating “She felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air” (340). It is easy to see through Chopin’s imagery a defiance of the stereotype of women and the embracing of individualism and freedom. An example of individualism and freedom is, “she was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her . . . . When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips . . . free!” (340).
The setting of the story reveals a lot to the reader. When Mrs. Mallard found out about her husband’s death she left the room and wanted no one to follow her. Chopin sets the scene to give the reader the impression that the need to be alone is not to grieve for her dead husband but that Mrs. Mallard had always had a desire to be alone and free. The mentioning of “the new life of spring” symbolizes new life and new beginning (Chopin 340). This is significant because Mrs. Mallard had been dreaming of a new life and she has finally been given a chance for a new life. After Mrs. Mallard fully accepts herself, the potential of herself, and the beginnings of a new life, she leaves the room.
In conclusion, Mrs. Mallard had never felt as free as when the news of her husband’s death had been relayed to her. Afterwards Chopin uses imagery to describe the emotions of Mrs. Mallard. Being alone in her room conveys feelings of freedom. She uses spring to signal the rebirth of hope and freedom. The sky can be seen as a new beginning. This beginning is the rebirth of Mrs. Mallard. As she is accepting this rebirth she relived the past repression by her husband. Once her full potential is realized and accepted Mrs. Mallard felt comfortable enough to leave the room. When she realized that her husband was still alive and she would be denied all of her freedom, she just accepted it as too much for her and her heart gave out. Since Mrs. Mallard had accepted her total freedom she could never have survived living as a passive and repressed woman again. Her fate was tragic. Still it was better to live one hour of freedom and happiness than to live a lifetime in the domination of her husband. Even if her new life of freedom was only for one hour, it was the time when all her dreams came true and she died knowing that death was the only way to keep her freedom.