Reaction to the Character of Mrs. Mallard in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

Reaction to the Character of Mrs. Mallard in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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Reaction to the Character of Mrs. Mallard in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin





In “The Story of an Hour,” Kate Chopin describes to her readers a young woman’s response to her husband’s death, or at least his presumed death. The opinions readers will draw from this story will vary from person to person due to personal experiences. The experience and wisdom that I have gained through the trails and tribulations of my life help me to understand, relate, and even despise Mrs. Mallard’s character. On one hand, I feel pity for Mrs. Mallard. I think she felt trapped in a situation that she found to be inescapable. She felt lonely, restless, and did not know how to help herself. Yet, on the other hand, I do not feel sorry for her character. Almost immediately after finding out that her husband is dead, she rejoices at her newfound freedom. I think that her actions portray in her a selfish and cowardly nature.
The story takes place in the late nineteenth century, a time when women had very limited rights. Mrs. Mallard, a young woman who has a bad heart, plays the main character in this story. She receives news that her husband has been killed in a railroad accident. Mrs. Mallard is shocked and bewildered by the death of her husband. However, the feeling of bewilderment is only a temporary feeling that quickly leads to an overwhelming sense of freedom. A freedom she has desperately longed for. Yet, shortly after receiving the news of her husbands death there is a knock at the door. Upon opening the door, she discovers that her husband is not dead, for he is standing in the doorway alive and well. Mr. Mallard’s appearance causes his wife to die. “[T]he doctors … said she [has] died of heart disease – of jo...


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... her cowardly characteristic. Although, Mrs. Mallard did not directly take her own life I do believe that indirectly she choose death as an escape from an unhappy life; a life where she had no freedom and was involved in an unhappy marriage.
“Each reader’s judgement of Mrs. Mallard and her behavior inevitably stems from his or her own personal feelings about marriage and the influences of societal expectations (14).” Thus, not every person that reads Kate Chopin’s, “The Story of an Hour” will feel both pity and dislike for Mrs. Mallard’s character as I did. This fact does not mean that the way I interpreted the story is wrong or right – it is just how I perceived it. Many factors influence the way individuals interpret stories or “things” in general. These factors include everything that shape people, such as life experiences, attitudes, age, gender, and so on.

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