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The Story Of An Hour

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"The Story of an Hour"

By Kate Chopin

"The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin describes the thoughts and feelings that are depicted in a

single hour of the life of Louise Mallard after hearing that her husband has been killed in a railroad

accident. As the story begins we are told that Mrs. Mallard is afflicted with a heart condition so the news

of her husband's death is broken to her gently by her sister. Mrs. Mallard's initial reaction, upon hearing

of her husband's death is one of grief. She wishes to be left alone to grieve in her room upstairs in the

house. However, during the hour she spends sitting in an armchair alone in the room, her state of mind

changes dramatically. She is faced with conflicting emotions and although she loved her husband and is

very upset by his death, she cannot suppress the thoughts that she is now free to begin a new life without

the restraints of having a husband. Mrs. Mallard experiences a joy and hope that will change her life now

that she only has herself to think about. The story ends in a dramatic climax when Brently Mallard returns

home, unhurt and not dead. The sight of seeing her husband alive causes Mrs. Mallard to die of what the

doctors' say is a "heart disease - of joy that kills."

"The Story of an Hour" portrays the social status or the Mallard family as working class. We know

this because the author tells us that Brently Mallard works on the railroad. Throughout this short story

there are examples showing how Mrs. Mallard's actions and ideas are focused on her freedom. The

author also describes the realization of freedom as if it were a tangible thing, "there was something

coming to her and she was waiting for it." There are also thoughts and ideas that show Mrs. Mallard

realizing that love is by no means a substitute for independence. "The Story of an Hour" also deals with

societal conflicts through their impact on the protagonist. Mrs. Mallard is seen to be unaware of the

conflict and resulting oppression, until events occur that force her to see it. She is ultimately "defeated"

by the social conflicts, but the really important point of the story is not winning or losing the struggle, but

the change that comes about as a result of the struggle.

Feminism and gender literacy perspectives play a major role in "The Story of an Hour". This is

evident from the beginning of the story when we do not find our Mrs. Mallard's first name until after

her husband's death. This shows us that she was not important enough to warrant a first name until she

was no longer dependent upon her husband. The description of woman's repression is evident when

Chopin gives us the reason for Mrs. Mallard's "monstrous joy" which reads thus. "There would be now




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