“The Story of an Hour” Essay

378 words | 2 page(s)

“The Story of an Hour” is a short story written by Kate Chopin in April 1894. The action of the story takes place within the Mallard family home, but there is a sparseness in describing much more of where or even when the story takes place. The setting is “closed in” both literally and figuratively; the story’s tangible and viewable action takes places within the house, but the story in “The Story of an Hour” is told within the context of Mrs. Mallard’s mind and marriage to Mr. Mallard. The story’s true meaning is in Mrs. Mallard’s desire for personal freedom, a theme characteristic of Chopin’s works and other authors of her time in the era of Realism. The Realism era was a reaction to and against Romanticism, exploring the emotional landscape of both authors and story characters. The time frame and the nature of Chopin’s writing add to the story when the reader reads that Mrs. Mallard’s death, as described, was brought on by “the joy that kills,” and remembers that Mrs. Mallard’s joy over her husband would have meant that she would have her own personal freedom—until she died. Chopin’s works and the works of other female authors of the time, like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, wrote of the internal turmoil of women who longed for independence in all forms and an identity separate from being a wife.

One of the story’s physical elements is a window. In the beginning. Mrs. Mallard faces the open window, looking out as she sank into her armchair. Outside of the window she sees all the signs of spring, a jovial and welcoming time with “countless sparrows,” “the delicious breath of rain,” and a “new spring life.” However, none of it outside is appealing when she cries in the armchair at the realization that she has lived life for others, yet not herself. As she looks out of the window, she hopes for a worldly existence apart from her husband and to be “free, free, free!” However, her dreams are nearly fulfilled, then dashed when it is revealed that Mr. Mallard has not died, yet Mrs. Mallard does at the shock that that dream was to be deferred yet again.

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  • <"The Story of an Hour", archive.vcu.edu/english/engweb/webtexts/hour/. Accessed 7 Sept. 2017. Woodlief, Ann. Kate Chopin: Literary Movements of Time, lfkkb.tripod.com/eng24/womensstudiessp03/theawakening/literarytime.html. Accessed 7 Sept. 2017.

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