Her grandmother had a huge impact on Kate life and taught her female views on life such as love, dreams, imagination, and storytelling to capture a world not yet experienced (Jones, Michelle L. Dictionary). Growing up as a child Kate began her education at Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic school devoted to creating good wives and mothers, while also teaching independent thinking. While at Sacred Heart Academy she began to read books such as John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” (Marlowe, Jean G). She also read old-fashioned romances and contemporary popular novels by women. In 1861 when the Civil war began Kate was greatly affected by the violence and stayed home where she began to write in her book called the Common Place Book.
She used the notion of death and the thought of her father, whom she never got to be acquainted with, in a number of her stories. In The Story of an Hour, she transferred what she felt about the death of her father into the main character, Louise Mallard, from her short story. Mrs. Mallard had just lost her husband in a railroad accident and she knew that she didn’t adore him with all of her heart. Kate Chopin wrote taboo tales that challenged the principles of society. She wrote one of the most unnatural books in American Literature during the Realism Period, The Awakening.
In the time period when women were treated as property instead of as actual human beings is the basis for a lot of Kate Chopin’s work. Her heterox stance on the world was not liked nor was it approved of, but that only makes her work that much more controversial and interesting. Mrs. Mallard is told by her sister and husbands best friend that he has been killed in a horrific train accident. Mrs. Mallard has a condition that causes her loved ones much worry about the news but surprisingly she takes it extremely well. After coming to terms with the news and actually being happy about having her freedom, her husband walks through the door, the shock causes her to drop dead.
During the 19th century, it was traditional and common sense that women were subordinate to men in terms of status and opportunities. Women had no rights and men dominated their lives and everything in it. However, Kate Chopin, a woman herself, writes a story about an ill woman who yearns to be free from her husband’s grasp. Chopin’s short story, “The Story of an Hour”, written in 1894, can best be understood by considering the cultural and historical background, the author’s life, the irony, symbolism, and other literary devices within the story, and the final insight the story leaves the readers to reflect on. An insight into “The Story of an Hour” can be perceived by examining the cultural setting of the story.
In many literary writings, especially by women, during the mid-1800’s to early 1900’s, we see symbols of oppression and the search for gender equality in society. Writing based on their own experiences, had it not been for the works of Susan Glaspell, Kate Chopin, and similar feminist authors of their time, we may not have seen a reform movement to improve gender roles in a culture in which women had been overshadowed by men. In The Story of an Hour, the main character, Mrs. Louise Mallard, is a young woman with a heart condition who learns of her husband’s untimely death in a railroad disaster. Instinctively weeping as any woman is expected to do upon learning of her husband’s death, she retires to her room to be left alone so she may collect her thoughts. However, the thoughts she collects are somewhat unexpected.
Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. Ray, Joan Klingel. "Pride and Prejudice: the tale told by Lady Catherine's House.