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Kate Chopin wrote a short piece called “The Story of an Hour” about a woman’s dynamic emotional shift who believes she has just learned her husband has died. The theme of Chopin’s piece is essentially a longing for more freedom for women.
Chopin reflects her rejection of the “postures of femininity” through her character’s descriptions. She describes her as “young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression.” Describing her as young and calm are what men looked for in a wife in the 19th century. They wanted a submissive woman to tend to their needs as Chopin’s description suggests. Furthermore, Chopin says of her character Mrs. Mallard, “she would live for herself.” Her character believes she will now be free of her marriage, and won’t be “repressed” as aforementioned any longer by her husband. Wives had a natural servitude towards their husbands as husbands worked and went about their lives. All in all, Chopin displays her character as having a joyous moment after the death of her husband because she is let go of being forced into her “femininity.”
Chopin displays a need for more independent women in this piece, suggesting that wronged womanhood is the simple fact that society didn’t allow them to be on the same level with men. Mrs. Mallard realizes a “possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being.” This suggests a dying will for independence. Mrs. Mallard realizes that she can now rely upon her self for everything and it will become her number one driving factor in life. After she realizes this, Chopin says Mrs. Mallard thinks “spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own.” When she has days to herself, she will have no one to tell her what to do, as this line suggests her husband used to.
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Chopin successfully conveys the joy a woman can feel when freed from social exploitive norms. Her character dies in almost utter happiness because of it.