Chopin’s The Story Of An Hour

1736 words - 7 pages

Kate Chopin’s story “The Story of an Hour” focuses on a married woman who does not find happiness in her marriage. When she hears of her husband’s death, the woman does not grieve for long before relishing the idea of freedom. Chopin’s story is an example of realism because it describes a life that is not controlled by extreme forces. Her story is about a married nineteenth-century woman with no “startling accomplishments or immense abilities” (1271). Chopin stays true to reality and depicts a life that seems as though it could happen to any person. Frank Norris comments that realism is the “smaller details of every-day life, things that are likely to happen between lunch and supper, small passions, restricted emotions…” (1741). “A Story of an Hour” tells the tale of an unhappy married woman which is not an unrealistic or extreme occurrence. Chopin conveys in her short story the feeling of marriage as an undesired bondage to some married women in the nineteenth century.
Mrs. Mallard is an ill woman who is “afflicted with heart trouble” and had to be told very carefully by her sister and husband’s friend that her husband had died (1609). Her illness can be concluded to have been brought upon her by her marriage. She was under a great amount of stress from her unwillingness to be a part of the relationship. Before her marriage, she had a youthful glow, but now “there was a dull stare in her eyes” (1610). Being married to Mr. Mallard stifled the joy of life that she once had. When she realizes the implications of her husband’s death, she exclaims “Free! Body and soul free!” (1610). She feels as though a weight has been lifted off her shoulders and instead of grieving for him, she rejoices for herself. His death is seen as the beginning of freedom. In the marriage, Mrs. Mallard feels that she is being trapped not only on a physical level, but also a spiritual level. Her very life force is under the constraints of her undesired life. The overwhelming impact that the news has on her is evidence that she feels a strong animosity towards her marriage. Mrs. Mallard desires for the life of independence and the ability to make her own decisions. She is able to see a future without her husband and looks forward to her independence. She had a “feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” when she was leaving with her sister (1610). She feels as though she has won a battle against the bonds of marriage. Her desire for freedom is so strong, that when she realized her husband was still alive, she herself could not live from the grief (1611). She is so heartbroken over the realization that the life she had always dreamed of was given to her then ripped away in an instant.
Some might argue that Mrs. Mallard despises her husband as much as the ties of her marriage; however this is not the case. She does not hate her husband as much as the idea of marriage. Mr. Mallard was merely a character in the life the she did...

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