Literary Study of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”

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In the story of an Hour, the author Kate Chopin emphasizes that Mrs. Mallard perseveres after receiving the news of her husband’s death. Her sister Josephine broke the sad news to her gently. Her husband’s death resulted from a railroad disaster. Although the death of her husband brought her some sort of relief, she still loved her husband and it made her sorrowful. At the end it was revealed that Brently Mallard didn’t die from the railroad accident and he wasn’t even  at the scene of the accident. Mr. Mallard arrived home unexpectedly. The sudden arrival of Mr. Mallard at home caused Mrs. Mallard’s death as a result of heart attack.

Thesis statement.

     Kate Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour” is a feministic prospect of marriage and gender roles in the late 19th Century.   Chopin highlights the inequality of roles in marital affairs by growing the plot to showcase these aspects. It has been roughly 100 years since then and unfortunately this vice still exists amongst us. Kate Chopin voiced how marital relationships were platforms restraining women and placing them at the will of their husbands. Women had no sense of freedom in the presence of their husbands as shown in Louise’s situation; she kept whispering through her breath, “free, free, free!” after learning of Brently Mallard’s death, her husband (Chopin 1-3).

      In the case of Louise, her husband’s death creates brings feelings of freedom from the restraining marriage. For just an hour, Louise is excited of her newly gained independence and freedom. She suddenly realized that she should live for herself in the coming years because there was no else to care for due to the demise of her husband. This means that Louise knew that she no longer had to live for her husband and she can finally become an independent woman (Chopin 1-3).

      Kate Chopin’s story has several aspects that point to a feministic approach. The story says that Mrs. Mallard did not hear of her husband’s death as other women who heard of the same shockingly, with paralysis and denial. This paints that women do not know how to accept critical matters and preferably men are better. This is because the word ‘women’ is used instead of just saying any other person. The story points out that Mrs. Mallard wept with sudden ‘wild abandonment’, implying that she needs a man and without one she became hopeless and lonely. This means she is desperately helpless because her support system is plucked from her life instead of being strong, sad and not necessarily abandoned.

      Brently Mallard’s arrival and proof that he was not dead, snatched away his wife’s brief feminine freedom. Right there Mrs. Mallard died. She could not imagine herself being controlled by a man again. The doctors declared that she had died of a heart disease, ‘a joy that kills’, which illustrates a woman’s disease of the heart of submitting to inequality. Mrs. Mallard had had the chance to briefly experience a feminine freedom and independence which literally kills her when snatched away by her husband’s appearance.


      Kate Chopin addresses complex themes such as female independence, love and marriage involved in the story, for the characterization of Mrs. Mallard during her last hour of living. After discovering the death of her husband, she faced conflicted emotions of despair at his death and also imagined the kind of liberty she would experience in the remaining days of her life. She engaged herself in deep thoughts.  As with successful end that many short stories create, however this story didn’t not end peacefully as expected but instead created an ultimate rotation. Realization of the presence of her husband whom she had thought that had died, shattered her image of experiencing current state of living. Ironically, a dreadful end is created out of what was appearing to be unexpected turn of events. In the end Mr. Mallard becomes free of his wife.

Chopin characterizes Louise Mallards as sympathetic person who is strong and insightful. To her, losing her strongest family tie cannot create a big gap compared to gaining opportunity to come out of bondage. In the 19th

century, American women used to be bound legally to their husband’s wealth and status but widows couldn’t have any entitlement and responsibilities following their husbands. Widows gained more freedom and liberty and gained total control over their lives. Although Chopin didn’t support the concurrent second-class of such situation of women in her text, she gives exclamations of, “Free! Body and soul free!” are mostly indicative of the ancient context (Chopin 1-3).

      Past the female freedom being referred to, Louise appeared to recommend that despite her husband having treated their relationship well with effects of permanency and intensity, limiting factors existed. Her physical description gives a hint of her personality, as Kate Chopin associated her youthful appearance with her future capability as she mentions these lines, “bespoke repression and even a certain strength”, although neither of her family members understood her point of view. Mrs. Mallard embraced solitude being the purest precondition for one’s free choice.


     Kate Chopin in her story used Louise’s situation to paint a picture of the typical housewife whose identity and freedom is not her portion. It is clear that one can only reach to their true self when released from the restraining factor and in this case only a new perception and approach to the female gender will solve the issue of binding marital relationships. “The Story of an Hour” maybe be fiction but it portrays a woman’s life in the 19th Century.


Works Cited.

Chopin, Kate. The Story of An Hour. 1894, pp. 1-3, Accessed 14 Nov 2018.

August 21, 2023


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