The Story of an Hour
TheStory of an Hour
Inthe story, Mrs. Louise Mallard is presented as a woman grappling withan oppressive marriage and is happy with the news that her husbandhas passed on. The purpose of this paper is to analyze whetherLouise`s marriage was unfulfilling and oppressive.
Onface value, Louise is presented as a heartless woman who rejoices atthe news of her husband’s death. But, closer analysis shows thather marriage was not perfect, and she felt stifled by her husband. Itis in the privacy of her room that Louise realizes that his deathmeans a better life for her as noted in this context, "Shebreathed a quick prayer that life might be long" (Chopin passage2). She gets a chance to look forward to a long life where she canenjoy her freedom. The writer speaks of her shuddering when shethinks of the long life she would have had with her husband if hewere alive. One does not shudder if the marriage is healthy andjoyful. The word “shudder” in this context has been used toportray her fear of oppression at the hands of her husband, “Shehad thought with a shudder that life might be long" (Chopinpassage 2). It is not something that she looked forward to giventhat previously she was afraid of living. Perhaps a short life forher was welcome because it meant she would be freed from her marriagesince, in the 19th-century,women were supposed to stay in their marriage till death even if theywere unhappy.
Chopingives the reader a chance to picture the life that Louise lived. Shehad no child to look after and upon the death of her husband, shewould need to step up and live her life the way she wanted, "Therewould be no one to live for during those coming years" (Chopinpassage 1). The statement shows that she did not initially live forherself, but her husband. It demonstrates the patriarchal dominationof women as their life revolved only around their men. The writeralso draws us to Louise strong sentiments about marriage as she didnot believe in it or love that is supposed to cement a relationship.She says “What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for…"(Chopinpassage 1). She regards love as a mystery meaning that she did nothave an understanding of it. The death of her husband brought therealization that her love for him equally dwindled in the course oftheir marriage, “She had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not”(Chopin passage 1). It could be that there were happy times in hermarriage that she felt obliged to love her husband, but most timesshe felt hatred towards him, perhaps he mistreated her.
Marriageis a private affair, but she felt forced into it, Louse speaks of,“…men and women believe they have a right to impose a privatewill upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin passage 1). It shows thatperhaps it was not her decision to get married to Mr. Malliard. Thefact that she felt free when she heard her husband had died shows herdesire to be released from a consuming marriage, “Free body, freesoul," (Chopin passage 2). It indicates that she could at leasthave a free body even when she was suffering from heart disease. Itshows that her will to be free outweighed her illness, but then shehad to whisper it so that no one could hear that she was overjoyed atthe fact that freedom was here.
Louiselocked herself in her room to reflect upon her life and hide heremotions. Despite the joy, she took the time to mourn his death whichis a familiar feeling for any woman whose husband has died. When shepeeped out of the window, she felt some kind of independencefollowing the death of her husband for it means freedom for her. Achance to do whatever she wanted, free from the bondage of marriageand free to think of the future and what it held for her, “Springdays, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own”(Chopin passage 2). It indicates the hope she had and the happytimes she looked forward to enjoying. The mention of the seasonsproves that she might not have known whether it was winter or summer,she never looked forward to them, but now has a new resolve to enjoyall the days.
Thereare words used in the short story to state that Louise marriage wasanything but happy and fulfilling, for instance, "brief momentof illumination." It shows that Louise was not even allowed tothink and imagine, for it was not permitted in the 19thCentury, women were regarded as inferior and were relegated tofollowing what their husbands commanded. The description of "blindpersistence" shows that she was forced into submission. Thewords, “Possession of self-assertion," states that she had noidea that she could feel the way she felt because Louise was deniedthe chance to envision her life or even dream it. It is only upon thedeath of her husband that she discovers a part of her that wasmissing and this pleases her.
Theshort story is both sad and informative for it showcases the feelingsof women in the 19th century from the eyes of Kate Chopin. It showstheir desire be to be free from the oppression of marriage, even ifit meant the death of their partner. The story gives women a certainkind of freedom but behind closed doors, which is only, but shortlived upon coming back to reality.
Chopin,Kate. Thestory of an hour.Blackstone Audio, 2013.
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