Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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The story talks about Louise’s short-term freedom and sudden tragic death upon the realization that freedom was lost. First, Josephine, Louise’s sister, and Richard, Mr. Mallard’s friend breaks it to her that her husband has been involved in a tragic accident and had died. Louise has suffered from a heart condition and this makes Josephine want to be gentle with telling Louise then news and stay close. Louise begins to sob for the loss as her sister comforts her. She wonders how she will manage now that her husband is no more “she wept with wild abandonment”(307).

After a few moments, she walks to her room which has a comfortable, roomy armchair and sits, staring at the open window. She needs a moment of peace for reflection while her sister worriedly cries for her outside the door. Josephine attempts to give her sister what she feels is best due to anyone in grief needs support and encouragement and Josephine is even more concerned due to Louise’s heart disease.

As Louise realizes her new freedom and plots the way forward, her sister is persistently still crying for her outside the door. As Louise runs downstairs with her newly found freedom, her husband appears. Out of pure shock, Louise collapses and dies and the doctor diagnose the cause of death as heart disease, which the author alludes to the loss of joy is what ultimately was the cause. What a short-lived moment of bliss for this unfortunate woman that it can only be explained as an hour of freedom.

From the short story, we learn that Louise was not happy with the marriage due to the control her husband had over her, which was common for this time. For her, it was a form of mutual existence and no emotion attached. The rest of the world might define the joy of marriage as having a source of income, hardworking husband who provides but the person in the marriage is the one who understands where the joy lacks.

As read in the story, when Josephine tells of Brently’s death, Louise is shocked but typically, if she was really into him this is the point where she would have collapsed. She goes to her room where she finds solitude to reflect on her uncertainty in her future. The open window in the room is a symbol of the opportunities that lie ahead for this window. The author further emphasizes on these opportunities by using the chirping of birds and the blue patched sky. Birds which typically chirp in the early morning symbolize the awakening of Louise.

Louise sees many possibilities now and cannot wait to spread her wings like the birds twittering outside her window. She is happy she no longer has to answer to anyone, in this case, her husband, in a society that is patriarchal and given all the authority to the male figure. She is glad to make her own decisions. Sadly, Louise has spent all her married life in a marriage that she was not happy with and where she did not love her spouse most of the time. When we picture the husband’s character, he is a typical male in this time period. I wonder why she would never address this matter with husband and let him know what brings her joy. She represents most women who are dying from within like Louise’s heart condition but values of that time hold her so much that she would rather die than talk about it.

In another standpoint, it is unfair to Brently that he may never know that his love was never enough for his wife, maybe he could have done things differently?

Louise may have never developed the heart condition in the first place. Her sister is a loving and caring person but sadly, Louise clearly does not confess anything in her about the unhappy marriage. Josephine in the company of Richard is sensitive to her sister’s condition and uses the most gentle way to break the bad news or oddly the best news to Louise. Like most women of that time, Mrs. Mallard has spent most of her life under the husband’s care and the news of his death really shatters her which is clear from the way she mourns to her sister origninally. When she walks away and she beings to have thoughts on freedom, we are made to reflect on how long we have let bad situations control us and even when the bad situation is over, we still hold on to them as our lives depend on the situations.

Happiness is found in inner peace. The people around us no matter how good or material fulfillment do not bring us joy but the freedom to make our decisions without judgment is a joy. Louise whispers multiple times free, “Free! Body and soul free!”(308). Louise is whispering these words possibly out of fear for what others may think. But again, society at this time limits a woman’s freedom of expression to privacy. No one should hear you talk about it and that is the sad truth. Still, she was happy not to have a constant shadow follow her and control her life.

A lot of metaphor symbolizes happiness in this short story, for the first time she sees the beauty in the world “The delicious breath of rain was in the air… The notes of a distant song which some one was signing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves”(307).

The joy she now feels are so much that she can hear a distant song amidst the busy and noisy streets. The youth in her gives her the joy and hope to realize the endless opportunities that will being to fill her life. She is not sure how society will receive a young woman who chooses to lead a single life but is fully set to live this way when the author says “…unwittingly like a goddess of Victory”(308). Unfortunately for Louise and many of us the physical and mental oppression is so real that it haunts us even when we thought it was dead. Or maybe the woman’s freedom to willingly be happy is such as illusion that society would rather let her die than gain the happiness. Freedom is goal and sadly for Louise her freedom was only short lived.

Works cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour” Literature- An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Pearson Education Inc, 2015 p. 307-308

Cite this paper

Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. (2020, Sep 09). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/story-of-an-hour-by-kate-chopin/

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