The Story of an Hour

The Story of an Hour

In 1894, Kate Chopin wrote, "The Story of an Hour." In this fictional

tale the author describes the experience of Louise Mallard, a woman

with heart trouble, immediately after receiving news of her husbands

death. Unlike the expected reaction, Louise actually has a moment of

relief realizing the freedoms she now has, which were taken from her

by an unhappy marriage. All the events of the story take place within

an hour in Louise's home. In the final minutes of the hour, Mrs.

Mallard is shocked to see that her husband walks through the front

door alive and well, which causes her to have a heart attack and die.

While her family believes she had a heart attack because she was

overjoyed, the author leads us to conclude the heart attack was

actually caused by her realization that the freedoms she looked

forward too were no longer a reality. Kate Chopin's description of

what the main character feels and sees shows us how this is possible.

The story is very well written as it flows from one paragraph to

another each presenting a new idea or information for the reader. The

story begins by informing us that Louise's husband, Brently Mallard,

was killed in a railroad disaster. Being that Louise has a heart

condition, her family was concerned with how she would react to the

bad news. Her sister, Josephine, broke the news to her. She

immediately cried as expected but the interesting part of the story is

when she goes into her room and locks the door. While Mrs. Mallard is

slouched in a chair her experience doesn't feel that tragic at all.

The mood is rather peaceful and relaxing. The reader is reminded more

of a sunny day than a gloomy sky. At this point it is almost confusing

but Kate Chopin...

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prisoner is put in handcuffs and taken back to his cell where he is

reminded he will be for life. Imagine the mental strain that would

cause the prisoner. I believe Mrs. Mallard's situation to be very

similar. This is why after careful review of the text I am convinced

that Louise's reaction to seeing her husband was still alive, was

complete disappointment rather than joy. It was all her newfound hopes

and dreams of a future of happiness destroyed due to the fact she

would still be a wife. Just as Josephine was wrong about what Louise

was going through in the bedroom, the doctors were wrong by saying she

died of "a joy that kills."(315)


Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." Literature and Society: An

Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction. Eds. Pamela J.

Annas and Robert C. Rosen. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000. 313-316.
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