Story of an Hour Essay

This essay has a total of 1222 words and 5 pages.

Story of an Hour



“The Story of an Hour”


In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” the apparent death of the husband signifies a
major turning point in the life of Mrs. Mallard. Until this time, she has been a
possession of her husband’s, much alike to his clothing, and she now realizes that she is
free. For Louise Mallard, the illusive death of Brently Mallard is her rite of passage
into a new, free life. Louise cannot live unless her husband is dead.

When Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband’s death, she not only goes straight into a period
of grieving, but more importantly, she is not as shocked as most people usually are when
they hear about a death of a close relative or friend. “She did not hear the story as many
women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance.” (p.
536) This is the first time Chopin alludes to Louise Mallard’s presumable lack of love for
Brently. Had she been truly in love with him, she would never have broken into tears
immediately, yet instead she might have smiled a little without truly hearing the words
spoken to her seconds earlier. The latter is a reaction of normalcy and commonality. Often
times when one reacts in such a way as Louise did, it means that she did not truly have a
strong attachment to the deceased one. Directly after her outburst of tears, she locks
herself away in a room, also an unusual reaction for someone in her predicament. “And yet
she had loved him—sometimes. Often she had not. What could love, the unsolved mystery,
count for in the face of this possession of self- assertion which she suddenly recognized
as the strongest impulse of her being!” (p.537) On the more obvious side, this is a direct
reference to Louise Mallard’s lack of love for her husband, yet this quote also entails
the brand new feeling one receives when entering into something new, such as a free life.
This is the moment that symbolizes so perfectly the freedom she is gaining by the minute.
As soon as Louise Mallard locks that door, not allowing one thing to enter, aside from her
thoughts, and later the “monstrous joy,” she is accepting the freedom from the shackles of
her marriage. The irony here is that she becomes free in a locked room. Normally, when one
locks a door, it seals that person in and gives them a lack of a sense of freedom.
However, in Louise Mallard’s case, she is sealing out the other issues, and freeing
herself inside the room. Even though she cannot be free within the society, for the
culture of the late nineteenth century would not permit such a thing, she can become free
within her own world, within her own room.

Immediately after enclosing herself in her room, she begins to have this epiphany, during
which everything outside seems perfect and free. The spring had come, and all that is
occurring outside appears to be quite pleasant. “She could see in the open square before
her the tops of the trees that were all aquiver with the new spring of life. The delicious
breath of rain was in the air… The notes of a distant song which someone was singing
reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.” (p. 536) The
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