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Story of an Hour Analysis by Kate Chopin

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Story of an Hour Analysis

In the "Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, published in 1894, the story documents the complicated reaction of Mrs. Mallard upon the news of learning about her husband's death. Chopin uses irony to describe the oppressive and unhappy nature of marriages at the time, and how ironically death, usually associated with sorrow, sadness, and grief, can also bring joy, freedom, and independence.

Irony is found at the very start. The beginning of the story states that Mrs. Mallard "was afflicted with a heart trouble," (Chopin547) so her sister; Josephine, and Richards; Brently Mallard's friend, believe that they must break the news about Brently Mallard's death to Mrs. Mallard as gently as possible. Josephine informs her "in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing." (547) They mistakenly assumed Mrs. Mallard is so in love with her husband that this unfortunate news would devastate her and threaten her weak heart.

 Mrs. Mallard becomes aware that with the death of her husband, she has more freedom. She at first, didn't allow herself to think about this freedom. The knowledge reaches her wordlessly via the "open window" through which she sees the "open square" in front of her house. "The tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air." The scene if full of hope and energy. "The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves." (547) Once she allows herself to recognize this new-found freedom, she utters the word "free" over and over again, rejoicing it. "Free! Body and soul free!" She looks forward to "years to come that would belong to her absolutely." (548)

Mr. Mallard's death has made Mrs. Mallard realize something that she hasn't before and most likely would've never realized if he had lived: her desire for independence. It is not so much about getting rid of her husband as it is about being entirely in charge of her own life. "There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a will upon a fellow-creature." (548) Mrs. Mallard never implied  Mr. Mallard mistreated her, but rather the implication that marriage can be stifling for both the husband and the wife.



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