The Story Of An Hour By Kate Chopin

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In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”, the struggle for freedom is dominant. The main character, Mrs. Mallard, stands for a woman who is struggling internally and externally for freedom. After the sudden loss of her husband, Mrs. Mallard gets a taste of the freedom she was lacking in her marriage. Like Mrs. Mallard, women throughout history have struggled to find freedom and success away from their husbands. Chopin herself only became successful after the loss of her husband. In “The Story of an Hour”, Chopin shows women’s struggle for freedom during the Victorian period through Mrs. Mallard’s struggle for her own freedom. Chopin first shows the struggle by telling how Mrs. Mallard’s sister, Josephine, and friend, Richards, expect Mrs. Mallard to react to her husband’s death. Chopin starts the story by saying, “[k]nowing the Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart trouble, great care was taken to break her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (30). The heart condition introduced in the first line of the story is actually the weakness put on women during this time. Mrs. Mallard is not ill; she does not get sick when she is finally free. The heart condition returns only when her husband returns at the end of the story (30). Later in the story, Josephine beats on the door of Mrs. Mallard’s bedroom yelling through the keyhole “open the door!...you will make yourself ill. What are you doing” (32)? Josephine cannot imagine what her sister could be doing; she cannot imagine the freedom Mrs. Mallard is finding on the other side of the door (32). Josephine’s expectation of her sister hurting herself explains the mindset of the people during this time; they cannot imagine a woman being happy free from marriage. Chopin us... ... middle of paper ... ...“the doctors…said she had died of a heart disease—of the joy that kills” (32). The metaphor of the heart condition standing for the weakness put on women returns with her husband. She is no longer strong and free; she is weak and trapped by her marriage. Chopin uses this purposely to show that women are weak in marriage and need to be set free. Chopin used the character of Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” to show the challenges and thoughts of women during the Victorian period who seek independence. After the sudden death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard receives a newfound freedom that women of this time were not accustomed to. As she grieves the death, she is overcome with the idea of being free. In the end, her husband is not dead, and the loss of her freedom kills her. Chopin shows in her death that women would rather have died than be trapped in a marriage.

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