The Story of an Hour – English Essay
“The Story of an hour” was written by Kate Chopin in the late 1800’s. It was about liberation, freedom, and marriage in the late nineteenth century. The character Mrs. Mallard is depicted as a weak and fragile woman
who suffers from heart trouble. When Mr. Mallard’s death was made apparent, Mrs. Mallard’s sister tries to break the news to her in a gentle way. Mrs. Mallard’s shock about her husband’s death was dramatic as “she wept at once with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arm” (Chopin 73).
However, as Mrs. Mallard retreats to her room and locks the door she replaces her cries with the feeling of joy. This is an act of freedom for Mrs. Mallard as she lets out the words “free, free, free,” from her mouth. She is now free from her subservient role she played for her husband and others. This is how she feels throughout the story as she is depicted as a weak individual to someone who just gained a sense of self “as she looked into the future, a future that she would live for herself”(Chopin 74). It is also apparent as Chopin writes “And then she opened and spread out her arms; out to them in welcome”.
The reaction Mrs. Mallard betrayed was not appalling or viscous but as an act of liberation. This is the way women should feel while there husbands’ are alive, women should not have to wait for a man to die in order to gain some sense of independence. Her feeling was “there would be no one to live for during those coming years, she would live for herself” (Chopin 74).
When Mrs. Mallard discovers her husband is indeed alive, she dies of heart disease. The doctor diagnosed her death as “a joy that kills”. However, the death of her husband made her realize that she was living for him and not for herself. If Mrs. Mallard had had a strong heart she would have faced her circumstances long ago.
Overall, Mrs. Mallard lacked the confidence that would have allowed her own self the awareness of how unhappy she was with her marriage. She should have stood up for her rights as an individual. But in the nineteenth century this was difficult for women who lived in a world where women didn’t have much of a choice but to do as they were told.
Clarke, Arlene, and Marlene Clarke. Retellings: A Thematic Literature Anthology. “The Story
of an hour. Kate Chopin”. 2003. 73-75.