The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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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. This story is written during the time women were subservient to men. Women during this period were seen as “weak, passive, timid, domestic, illogical, [and] emotional” (Radek). The society and economy ruled that women “should work in the home, taking care of [the] home and hearth” while men go out to work (Radek). Thus, women had very limited freedom and were seen as unequal to men. A further insight can be found by focusing on the historical background that impacted the story. In the 1800s, married women did not have the right to make wills and receive wages and in turn became “owned” property by their husbands. With regards to this, this is exactly what Mrs. Mallard is suffering from her husband, Brently. Not only is she restricted through her marriage and by her bad heart, but also by being confined in her home. However, after she hears the news about her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard could see the “delicious breath of rain [in] the air” known as freedom (Chopin 17). Mrs. Mallard silently whispers “free, free, free a...

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... The characters portrayed by Kate Chopin in “The Story of an Hour” reflect the author. As similar to Mrs. Mallard herself, Chopin is a portrayal to most women from the past that had no freedom. Ultimately, Chopin’s audience is able to understand women’s oppression during the 19th century.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” McDougal Littell. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2009. 760-763. Print.
Ker, Christina. "An Overview of the Life and Works of Kate Chopin." Empire:ZINE. Spyder's Empire, n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
Radek, Kimberly. “Women in the Nineteenth Century.” Women in Literature. Illinois Valley Community College. 21 Apr 2008. Web. 6 Apr 2014.
“ The Story of an Hour: Themes, Motifs, and Symbols.” Sparknotes. Sparknotes LLC. Web. 6 Apr 2014.
Wyatt, Neal. “Biography of Kate Chopin.” VCU. Virginia Commonwealth University, n.d. Web. 6 Apr 2014.
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