Kate Chopin’s, “They Story of an Hour,” is a short yet complex story that happens within an hour in which the author presents an unheard of view of marriage. The story mainly revolves around one woman, Louis Mallard, from the moment she learns of her husband’s death to the moment he unexpectedly returns alive.
It is a literary piece that touches the readers’ feelings and allows readers to have a connection to Mrs. Mallard’s emotional process. The story can be read quickly, but the impact it makes is powerful with each word carrying deep sense and meaning. The themes of freedom and death in this story have been projected in a way that gives a reader a different understanding that what is already known. Now Mrs.
Mallard has learned of her husband passing away is she happy that he is gone? Or is Mrs. Mallard truly upset that her husband has passed? “Story of an Hour” was written in 1894, which was a time that had highly restrictive gender roles where women did not have much power or say in anything that went on. Women were the ones to stay home and take care of the family, while the husbands went out and worked. The opinions of women were never heard or considered and women did not dare speak out about their feelings or their rights, it was just not heard of in that time.
Women lived in a life of silence because they had no voice and dared not once speak out. Mrs. Mallard experiences something not everyone has the luck to have during this time; the happiness of freedom that the reader only understands at the end of the story. However, Chopin never tells the reader what Mrs. Mallard is feeling. Instead, the reader must look into Mrs.
Mallard’s actions and words in order to understand how Mrs. Mallard feels. In the beginning of the story the reader is told that Mrs.
Mallard suffers from a heart condition, and the news of her husband’s death has to be brought to her “as gently as possible’ (paragraph 1). Mrs. Mallards sister, Josephine, and her husband’s friend Richards tell the news to her, believing that Mrs. Mallard would be upset and that the news could make her heard condition worsen. Mrs.
Mallard reacts to the news like any other wife would, and rushes off upset to her bedroom to be away from everyone who has come to see her. The reader expects Mrs. Mallard to be upset about the news of her husband’s death, and worries that receiving sad news with her heart condition may worsen it. However, Chopin shows us how Mrs. Mallard comes to realize the news and what helps her to understand it. One major theme in Kate Chopin’s story is freedom. While Mrs. Mallard is in her room we as the reader sees a completely different side of her.
Although Mrs. Mallard is upset, she in some sense is happy that she has this new found freedom that she did not have before as she repeats the words “Free! Free! Free!” (paragraph 10). Her pulse beats faster; her blood runs warmer; her eyes brighten (paragraph 10). Mrs. Mallard knows that from now on she can live for herself for the rest of her days as she sees the opportunity to be her own person, that ‘There would be no one to live for during these coming years; she would live for herself’ (paragraph 12).
Mrs. Mallard is standing in front of her window and everything around her is in full bloom, spring has arrived. Winter has now died and spring has now been born. In some sense this applies to Mrs.
Mallard as winter being her husband who has died, and spring being her new found freedom has been born.