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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