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Paper about "the story of an hour" by Kate Chopin


shadow girl 1 / -  
Dec 5, 2011   #1
One of Kate Chopin's most famous stories is "the Story of an Hour." In this story Chopin was brave enough to challenge the society in which she lived because in the first half of the 19th century, women were not allowed the freedoms men enjoyed in the judgments of the law, the church or the government. Married women, could not make legal contracts, divorce a bad husband or win the right to care of their children, and many people believed that the "proper sphere for a woman was the house" (Thomas 21). In her story "The story of an hour" Chopin tries to illustrate the unreasonable life that women were having, and it gives an idea about women who there lives were controlled by men and were unable to control any part of their own lives. The story begins with Josephine kindly tells her sister Mrs. Mallard the tragic news about her husband's death, Josephine was gentle when she was telling this sad news because of Mrs. mallard's heart trouble. However, Mrs. Mallard does not take the news as being sad and miserable. Chopin says, "She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long" (1), so from this quotation I understands that there is a strange sort of happiness that comes to Mrs. Mallard when her husband passed away, a pleasure that only comes with her feelings of freedom.

After she discovers the death of her husband. Mrs. Mallard locks herself in her room "facing the open window" (1), she starts thinking about her new life. Possibly at first she feels truly happy, happy that she is now free from her husband and the life they once shared together, the open window in "The Story of an Hour" also symbolizes the open path to a new inspiration leading to a new choices and to a new spirit for a new life, as Chopin later clearly represents that Louise is "drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window. Now that she could live for herself, she wanted nothing more than to have a long time to enjoy it. When she was forced into the role of fearful and powerless wife, she didn't see a point in living, she would have rather died young to have to obey her husband for the rest of her life. While she is looking out the window at the trees all "aquiver with new spring life, a delicious breath of spring rain is in the air, the clouds are parting to show patches of blue sky, and there are even the birds singing the bees" (25), the open window in "The Story of an Hour" also symbolizes the open path to a new inspiration leading to a new future and to a new life. Mr. Mallard's death is certainly not a tragedy to Mrs. Mallard because as critic Peggy Skaggs points out, "it gives her freedom back to her. Mrs. Mallard discovers that no amount of love and security can compensate for lack of control over her existence" (105). Mrs. Mallard now feels as though she no longer has to hide from the fact that she did not really love her husband, at least not in the way a married woman should love her husband. The way she thinks of her husband makes it seem as if he had not been her choice, as if she married him out of convenience or had been forced to marry him against her desires, then when she was alone in her room she feels that there are a lot of choices waiting for her. As Skaggs suggests, when Mrs. Mallard goes upstairs to her room, she is literally elevating her freedom, because she can see the tops of the trees and the birds singing on them, and when she finally came out of her room, she emerges like a "Goddess of Victory, with a feverish triumph in her eyes. However, when she is leaving the room and going downstairs, this predicts her loss of freedom. It proves that something unexpected is about to happen, because Mrs. Mallard is now coming back to reality, the reality that she is no longer going to be able to live the life she had now vanished Mrs. Mallard is misunderstood because of her reaction to her husband's death. Even the medical professional misapprehends her collapse. This indicates that the conventional view of female devotion is sometimes misunderstood and that Mrs. Mallard was not the only nor the first woman whose behavior has been misread (107). It was not a good thing for her to see her husband alive because this has killed her, she realized that now she was not going to be free and would have to continue more pain by spending the rest of her life with him. Chopin writes about this sudden death she says, "When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of joy that kills"(2). The joy that killed Mrs. Mallard can be her extremely happy feelings when her husband comes back before her eyes suddenly. In the other hand, the reason of Mrs. Mallard's death "of joy that kills" can be understood as the real joy of freedom or the shock of getting back to the miserable life. however, for me, there is a second thought for this death, and It is can be that Mrs. Mallard died from shock and disappointment, rather than joy as the doctors diagnosed. Louise's family and friends, however, misunderstand the cause of her death, implying that in that time the society cannot understand the joy of a woman outside the boundaries of marriage.

In conclusion, this story proves that women's liberation is an extremely important issue, and the means by which these women gained their freedom is remarkable. The tragic ending of "The Story of an Hour" highlights the fact that only through her husband's death, and through the death of her marriage, she can be free but instead at the end the only way she can be is through her death Mrs. Mallard can free herself. In this context, Xuding Wang says

Louise's death reveals the impossibility of an idealistic feminist searching for selfhood and freedom at a wrong time. By the death of Louise at the end of the story, Chopin clearly implies that any woman's search for ideal feminine selfhood is impossible in an age dominated by powerful patriarchs, but by Louise's search for selfhood and feminine emancipation, with a prophetic vision and foresight (107).

But nowadays there are many actions and laws concerning women's rights when whenever they feel trapped in their marriage they can urge to end it. Getting a divorce become easy for women nowadays. however, Chopin's story tells a lot about the situation women were in a century ago, and its morale has spread lately following the recent freedom argue. "The Story of an Hour" perhaps has inspired huge number of women to fight their husbands if they feel like their marriage isn't as jolly as it must be.


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