The Story of an Hour – Feminist Literature Was Just Developing

April 28, 2022 by Essay Writer

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin was written in the late 1800s when feminist literature was just developing. Chopin was a new writer who was encouraged to begin using writing as a form of therapy for her depression after the deaths of her husband, then mother. The role of this story is said to be a reflection of her own life after her husband died and she went from being a wife to an independent woman who was the main provider for her family.

The story begins with informing the reader of the wife, Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble and the need to softly break the news of her husband’s death to her. Mrs. Mallard was introduced on a last name basis until the middle of the story when her sister calls her by her first name, Louise. This is a symbol of Mrs. Mallard’s social status, she is part of the upper class and is referred to as Mrs. instead of her first name. She could be referred to as Louise, on a personal level.

Mr. Mallard’s friend, Richards, and Mrs. Mallard’s sister Josephine were at her house to, what they thought, be the barriers of bad news. Richards was Brently Mallard’s friend who worked at the newspaper office and received the news of the railroad accident. He waited to receive a second confirmation of the list of those killed. Mr. Mallard was the first one on the list. Her sister, Josephine, was the one to break the news of her husband, Brently Mallard’s death. Josephine told her in “broken sentences… half concealing” (Chopin) trying to break it to her gently, and it gives an indication of how upset Josephine was about the news.

Chopin describes the moment Mrs. Mallard heard the news, “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance.” When a wife learns of her husband’s death, she usually is stuck with disbelief and confusion. Mrs. Mallard appeared to have understood and acknowledged her husband’s death as she did not process the news as most wives would. Instead of being frozen, in denial and hysterical, she seems to accept the news of his death. She cried for a shorty while and when she was done, she went to her room alone.

Mrs. Mallard stands by a window in her room before sits down because of “physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul” (Chopin). This is the moment she realizes what her husband’s death means for her. She is observing the spring day and what it offers, Chopin describes the view of the spring day in a warming manner, an inviting day, with things like “new spring life…delicious breath of rain.” Mrs. Mallard is described as young and calm with a dull stare in her eye, but the stare was not sadness, it was a thought. She was having a soul-searching moment, she was unsure of what it was but she felt it coming. She started to feel a relief from her husband’s death but did not want that thought to consume her. Chopin describes the moment Mrs. Mallard knew what came over her, what she was expecting next, …a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!” the vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.

This is a critical quote in the story. This is the. Moment Mrs. Mallard knew and understood she would be free. She did not care if this was an evil thought to have, she ignored it. She knew she would cry during his funeral, but she looked past that particularly sad part and was looking forward to a life that belonged to just her. In this time setting, the husband always came first, he was the heart of the family while the wife was expected to always make sure his needs were met first, meaning she came second. She was ready to live for herself and get away from a life of marriage with the idea marriage should be considered a crime.

She was not in love with her husband. She loved him, but most of the time she didn’t. She no longer cared. She continued saying “Free! Body and soul free!” (Chopin). She kept her thoughts to herself. Her sister begged her to open the door to make sure she was not going to make herself sick, however, she wanted her to go away because she knew she would not be sick, in this moment she was feeling free, envisioning her new life. In the text Chopin writes “it was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” but now she is praying for longer life. When she was still married to her husband, she was living a drawn-out boring life, she was dreading a long life. When she got the news of her husband’s death, she was wishing it to be longer, she wanted to live and was excited about her new life.

She decided to leave the room with her sister who was telling her to open the door. She walked gracefully and powerfully as she wanted downstairs. That is when the front door was being unlocked by someone. Her husband, Brently Mallard walked through the door, unharmed and alive. He was not involved in the accident. At this point, it seems Louis Mallard had passed away. This is symbolized by her sister Josephine’s piercing cry and Richards trying to block Mr. Mallard from seeing his wife. The doctors determined she had died of heart disease. The story ends with “—of joy that kills” (Chopin) this is describing Mrs. Mallards reaction to her husband being alive. She was ready to be a widow, start a new live and live for her. She was relieved of having to be his wife. When she saw him alive, she was shocked, and her newest dreams and life were taken away from her in that instant.


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