Plot Analysis Of Kate Chopin's The Story Of An Hour

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Rebecca Kallios
Essay #1

“The Story of an Hour” Plot Analysis
“The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin tells the fictional account of a woman who learns of her husband dying in a train crash and the ensuing hour after she is given that news. Within that hour, the protagonist Mrs. Mallard grieves over the loss of her husband, but also realizes a newfound freedom that she didn’t have being married. Chopin focuses on the theme of freedom, especially in terms of a woman’s role in marriage at the time the story was published (December 1894). In the short story “The Story of an Hour,” author Kate Chopin uses elements of the plot to evoke empathy and demonstrate how marriage affected a woman’s freedom in the late nineteenth century.
When Mrs. Mallard retreats to her room, she looks out the window at the world outside. The window symbolizes her new future as a free woman, outside the confinement of the walls of her home. Chopin describes “the new spring life,” “the delicious breath of rain,” and the “patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds.” (174). The springtime conditions symbolize a new chapter, a rebirth of sorts, which is Mrs. Mallard’s freedom. These springtime conditions can also signify American women in general at the time the story was written. Women of the late 1800s were starting to gain more freedoms, especially in gaining employment outside of the
Through the use of a concise plot, symbolism, descriptive setting, point of view, and dramatic irony, readers are left with a strong feeling of empathy for the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard. Through each paragraph of the story, readers continue to feel empathetic for the woman who grieves the loss of her husband, gains a new feeling of freedom outside of the restrictions of marriage, then loses that freedom when she discovers that her husband is not dead, all within an hour’s time. While women’s independence and freedom within marriage could still be a topic reflected in today’s literature, it would be a much different story than that of Chopin’s time. At the time this story was written, women were expected to do whatever it took to please and cater to their husbands. This story seems to draw from the changes of that time as women were beginning to gain more independence in their lives as in the suffrage movement, marriage, and employment outside the home. Much has changed in women’s rights since the end of the nineteenth century, which is a result of the work of women like Kate

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how kate chopin uses elements of the plot to evoke empathy and demonstrate how marriage affected a woman's freedom in the late nineteenth century.
  • Analyzes how chopin describes mrs. mallard's grief, to her acquisition of freedom, which is a reflection of the time this story was written.
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