The Story of an Hour
English 125 Introduction to Literature
December 1, 2012
In Kate Chopin??™s, ???The Story of an Hour,??? written by Kate Chopin in 1894, Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart, and the news of her husband??™s death had to be broken to her as gentle as possible. Mrs. Mallard??™s sister Josephine broke the news of her husband killing in a train accident. Josephine broke the news to her in broken sentences. The sentences had to be broken in a way that Mrs. Mallard could take them. Mr. Mallard??™s friend stands by, and listens to Josephine telling Mrs. Mallard the news. Richard was at the newspaper office when he sees the list of names on it from the railroad accident, and Mr. Mallards name was clearly on it.
During this time, woman did not have much power or have any say into anything. Woman were the ones that stayed home and took care of the family and tended to the house, while the husband went out for work, sometimes husbands were gone for weeks at a time. Woman did what the husbands told them to do, and the woman had no rights to say anything. Even though woman had their desires, and feelings, the husbands in this time never talked about their wives desires or feelings. Woman did what their husbands told them to do, and they lived the way the husbands expected them to live.
One major theme in The Story of an hour is freedom. Her confidence becomes explicit and strong. In the beginning of the ???Story of an Hour??? Mrs. Mallard has been told her husband was killed in a train accident by her sister Josephine. Josephine breaks the news to her gently because of her heart condition. Mrs. Mallard??™s reactions to the accident at first she was upset. She runs to her room weeping, and upset. While in her room, Mrs. Mallard had a different side of herself. She is happy her husband is dead; she begins seeing herself as free. When she abandoned herself, a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it repeatedly under her breath: ???Free, free, free!??? The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulse beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body (Clugston, 2010).
Another major theme is oppression
While Mrs. Mallard sit in her room, Mrs. Mallard??™s sister Josephine worried that, her sister was making herself ill by shutting herself up in her room. The irony describes Mrs. Mallard praying for a long life, she drinks in the elixir of life, has a feverish triumph in her eyes, and comforts herself like a ???goddess of victory.??? While Josephine is thinking Mrs. Mallard is grieving herself to death, Mrs. Mallard is over joyed her husband is dead. She had resentment towards Mr. Mallard because he was controlling of her. Mrs. Mallard is no longer bonded to a marriage that is unhappy, controllable. She can now do as she pleased without having her husband tell her what to do (Deneau, D.P.2003).
While Mrs. Mallard just as she locks herself in her room and locks out her social world, she also locks out social conventions. Purging her repressed emotions, she awakens to all the individual elements of her natural environment: she notices, as she looks out her bedroom window, the trees, the rain, the air, the peddler??™s voice, the notes of a song, the sparrows, the sky, and the clouds. This symbolizes nature the objects of sense as a symbol of the powerful faculty of emotions, this symbolizes new life around Mrs. Mallard as she begins to think of the new changes that are beginning to take of her. She has a new way of freedom, and new way of life she can live and enjoy on her own. She has no one to tell her that she had to stay home, or she had to stay home and keep up her housework. This could also symbolize spring, which means a rebirth, or a new beginning of her life.
The emotions Mrs. Mallard felt had her floating high above the clouds, she was happy, she had conquered her sadness, and had a new desire of her freedom. She was a new person, stronger, young, and excited about her life that was heading for her. Mrs. Mallard had new dreams, she could live a long, and happy life without having someone to control every move she made. She had no one to tell her when or where she had to go, and she no longer had to serve as just a homemaker.
After Mrs. Mallard started realizes the changes that were about to happen in her life, she walks to down, sees Mr. Mallard standing there, and causes her to die. The surprise was too much for Mrs. Mallard, she dies of shock, of despair, of joy that kills. Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. Brently Mallard enters the room, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his gripsack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine??™s piercing cry; at Richard??™s quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife. At this time, Richard??™s, and the doctor do not understand the exact cause of Mrs. Mallards death, but the doctors say it was because of her heart disease, or it could have been because of a broken heart that caused her to die suddenly. Mrs. Mallard??™s emotions clearly had a toll on her life, and as she sees her husband standing there, knowing that all her freedom had been taken away again, she died of a broken heart.
Mrs. Mallard wanted to be free and wanted to have some freedom of her own. As she was looking out of her bedroom window thinking about her husband??™s death, she started to think about her own life. Her relationship with her husband was not free, and she had to live in bondage for the rest of her life. In the end, she still ended up being free of this relationship. Mrs. Mallard??™s story truly demonstrates what woman of her time had to go through in a marriage. The only way she could be free of bondage, and have rights of her own, was only given to her through her husband??™s death. Seeing her husband was alive meant Mrs. Mallard had to continue to live the same old way. She knew there was no freedom, and the shock of Mr. Mallard alive, simply took her life.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California:Bridgepoint Education, INC.
Deneau, D. P. (2003). Chopins the Story of an Hour. The Explicator, 61(4), 210-213.
J, S. S. (2009). Emotions in The Story of an Hour. The Exlicator, 67(3), 215-220.