The Story of an Hour BY hiee2010 The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin dives into difficult issues involved in the interchange of female love, independence, and marriage through her short but successful characterization of the supposedly widowed Louise Mallard in her last hour of life. After discovering that her husband has died in a tragic train accident, Mrs. Mallard faces conflicting emotions of grief at her husband’s death and Joy at the prospects for freedom in the remainder of her life. The latter emotion eventually takes priority in her thoughts.
As with many successful short stories, however, the tory does not end peacefully at this point but instead creates a climactic twist. The reversal, the revelation that her husband did not die after all, shatters Louise’s vision of her new life and ironically creates a tragic ending out of what initially appeared to be a fortuitous turn of events. As a result, it is Mr. Mallard who is free of Mrs. Mallard, although we do not learn whether the same relationship of conflicting emotions occurs for him. Chopin presents Mrs.
Mallard as a sympathetic character with strength and insight. As Louise understands the world, to lose her husband is ot a great loss so much as an opportunity to move beyond the “blind persistence” of the repression of personal relationships. In particular, American wives in the late nineteenth century were legally bound to their husbands’ power and status, but because widows did not bear the responsibility of finding or following a husband, they gained more legal recognition and often had more control over their lives.
Although Chopin does not specifically cite the existing second class situation of women in the text, Mrs. Mallard’s exclamations of, “Free! Body and soul free! ” are highly suggestive of the historical context. Mrs. Mallard’s characterization is complicated by the brief nature of her grief over her husband, as it might indicate excessive selfishness or shameless self absorption. However, Chopin does much to divert us from interpreting the story in this way, and without a doubt Mrs.
Mallard’s switch to temporary euphoria may simply suggest that the human need for independence can exceed even love and marriage. The use of third-person omniscient narrative voice also keeps Mrs. Mallard more compassionate and reasonable. The narrator seems to be Justifying her behavior and thought process, or t least providing reasoning for it. For example, look at this description, stated by the narrator, of how Mrs. Mallard winces away from the future feeling of freedom: There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully.
What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air. This makes it seem like it’s not Mrs. Mallard’s fault she has these feelings, they chase her down. She’s helpless to resist them, passive and powerless. Mrs. Mallard is on the verge of thinking something complicated and not very nice, the short version of that would be, she’s kind of glad her husband’s dead because she gets to be free.
Even though freedom’s scary at first she’s excited about it by the end. If that were related to us in first person, we might think Mrs. Mallard to be selfish or believe that she didn’t love her husband. As told by the narrator, it seems like Mrs. Mallard is powerless under the greater weight of human truths. Remarkably, Louise Mallard reaches her conclusions with the suggestive help of the environment, the imagery of hich symbolically associates Louise’s private awakening with the beginning of life in the spring season.
Ironically, in one sense, she does not choose her new perceptive but instead receives it from her surroundings, “creeping out of the sky. ” The word “mallard” is a word for a kind of duck, and it may well be that the use ofa wild fowl in the story signifies independence. To bring together the story under one essential theme, Chopin both begins and ends with a statement about Louise Mallard’s heart trouble. In the first paragraph of “The Story of an Hour,” Chopin uses the term “heart rouble” primarily in a medical sense, but over the course of the story, Mrs.
Mallard’s assumed ill-health seems to be largely a result of psychological repression rather than truly physical factors. The story finishes off by attributing Mrs. Mallard’s death to heart disease, where heart disease is “the Joy that kills. ” This last phrase is purposefully ironic, as Louise must have felt both Joy and tremendous distress at Brently’s homecoming, regaining her husband and all of the loss of freedom her marriage entails. The line establishes that Louise’s heart condition is more of a etaphor for her emotional state than a medical reality.
Works Cited “Kate Chopin’s Short Stories Summary. ” Kate Chopin’s Short Stories Study Guide : The Historical Context of Kate Chopin’s Short Stories. N. p. , n. d. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.. “The Story of an Hour Characters & Character Analysis. ” BookRags. BookRags, n. d. web. 31 oct. 2013. . “”The Story of an Hour”–study Text. ” “The Story of an Hour”–study Text. N. p. , n. d. “Story-Chopin-Story of an Hour – Students Teaching English Paper Strategies. ” Students Teaching English Paper Strategies. N. p. , n. d. Web. 31 Oct. 2013. .