The Death of Louise Mallard and Female Identity in The Story of an Hour

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In Chopin’s thousand work short story The Story of an Hour, the protagonist Louise Mallard is afflicted with heart trouble but learns that her husband has died in a railroad accident. Upon her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard catches a glimpse of what independence feels like, but it is quickly taken away from once her husband returns unharmed. Chopin’s feminist ideals form the basis of this story where she explores female identity in a patriarchal society. For women of her time, marriage could be likened to prison where only death could set their “body and soul free” (Chopin 237). Considering the status of women in the late nineteenth century, Louise Mallard is a sympathetic character; she represents the oppression of women and the futility of asserting female identity in a patriarchal society. Kate Chopin’s works explore female identity in a patriarchal society and place emphasis on women’s self-worth. In Louisiana, where Chopin lived at the time, wives were considered to be the lawful property of their husbands. They were bound to serve and love their husbands with no way of being independent without social stigma forcing them to be submissive. It is important to note that her stories were written before the feminist movement of the late nineteenth century began. Chopin, a free spirit who would passionately argue with strangers about political and social matters to the dismay of wives in her social circle, was ahead of her time. Unlike Louise Mallard, Chopin became an independent widow after the death of her husband Oscar Chopin, which was considered immoral in her time (Seyersted 62). She did not want to lose her independence and wanted to live for her writing (Seyersted 62). With this in mind, it is odd that Chopin... ... middle of paper ... ...omen faced in such a system. Works Cited Berkove, Lawrence I. “Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour’.” American Literary Realism. 32.1 (2000): 152-158. Print. Cunningham, Mark. "The Autonomous Female Self and the Death of Louise Mallard in Kate Chopin's 'Story of an Hour'." English Language Notes. 42.1 (2004): 48-54. Print. Diederich, Nicole. "Sharing Chopin: Teaching 'The Story of an Hour' to Specialized Populations." Arkansas Review. 43.2 (2012): 116-120. Print. Larson, Barabara ,et al. "Close Readings." Analyses of Short Fiction. 27. (2001): 86-112. Print. Seyersted, Per. Kate Chopin: A Critical Biography. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969. Print. Wan, Xuemei. "Kate Chopin's View on Death and Freedom in 'The Story of an Hour'." English Language Teaching. 2.4 (2009): 167-170. Print.
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