The Attainment of Release in “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin

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In her narrative, “The Story of An Hour”, Kate Chopin tells the story of a wife as she deals with her husband’s sudden death. The beginning of the story starts by stating Mrs. Mallard has a heart condition, and ends with her death, which is ironically due to the heart condition. Chopin allows open interpretation by not giving much detail about the marriage life of The Mallards. From my personal interpretation of the reading, I conclude that Louise gains freedom and release with the news of her husband’s death.
I read the narrative multiple times before gaining a clear, overall understanding of what the story was about. An ironic correlation between the author and the story is that prior to beginning her “writing career”, her husband died. Did Kate Chopin gain freedom with the death of her husband or is it just a coincidence that her writing career came after? Early on in the story Chopin states, “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms (404).” Based on this quote, as soon as Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband’s death, she is quick to accept the fact that he is actually dead. In a world where death is common, if I had a husband and he died, acceptance would probably be my last stage.
After Mrs. Mallard comes to realization that her husband is dead, she quickly starts to think about her upcoming freedom as a widow. I understand that when you’re coming to grips with such a circumstance like death, it is easy to start to envision what your life is going to be like without that person. When Louise decides to speak her first words are “Free, free, free” (Chopin 404), which leads me to believ...

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...s with her sudden demise. Chopin leads me to believe that the other characters think Mrs. Mallard died “of joy that kills” (405), but I think it’s up to the individual reader to decide. To be truthful, I can’t really imagine what it would be like to find out my spouse was dead, and then turn around and see him alive. I know that when I do get married, my spouse will allow me to feel my freedom or they won’t be my spouse. If you think about it Louise died while she was feeling free; and maybe it was because when she saw her husband, she felt her new freedom was gone. This story also makes me wonder if the author felt somewhat guilty for wanting her “freedom” after her husband had died. Depending on the reader’s perspective, the story can be interpreted in various ways which leads to the real question of the story: did Louise die from disappointment or joy or neither?
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