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Chopin’s The Story of an Hour

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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 beginn...

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...ge that she does not wish to be in. This woman suffers a tremendous amount from the commitment of her marriage, that the death of her husband does not affect her for long. A marriage such as this seems so unbelievable, yet a reader could see the realistic elements incorporated into the story. This begs the question of how undesirable marriage was during Chopin’s life. The unhappiness felt by Mrs. Mallard seems to be very extreme, but Chopin creates a beautiful story that reflects upon the idea of marriage as an undesired relationship and bond to some women in the nineteenth century.

Works Cited

“American Literature 1865-1914.” Baym 1271.
Baym, Nina et al. Ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter 8th ed. New York: Norton, 2013. Print.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Baym 1609-1611.
Norris, Frank. “Zola as a Romantic Writer.” Baym 1741.
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