Analysis of “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin (Essay Sample)
Analyze a short story to determine its meaning. How do various elements of the story work together to create its meaning? What, precisely, is the writer protesting?
Analysis of “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
Marriage as an institution is meant to serve as a place where those involved share companionship and obtain emotional fulfillment. Set in the 1900’s, Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” talks about marriage. Using the character of Mrs. Mallard, Chopin suggests that marriage in the olden days seemed to imprison the women especially since gender inequality was also rampant at that time. Often, wives were expected to be fully submissive to their husbands and do according to their wishes without questioning. In doing this, they were denied their freedom. Through Mrs. Mallard’s story, Chopin shows that women attain their true freedom when they are on their own without a man to dictate what they have to do or not to do. The presence of a man is associated with causing heart problems for women in marriage because traditionally, society expected women to exercise extreme patience in marriage regardless of what they felt or went through. In general, the story protests the restriction of women’s freedoms in marriage since this causes them a lot of unhappiness.
In this story, Chopin is protesting the emotional torment that women in marriage are made to go through all in the name of making a marriage work or simply to please their husbands. From the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mallard is presented as a weak and sickly woman struggling with heart issues. Incidentally, her husband dies in an accident and within an hour of receiving this “unfortunate” news, there is an interest shift in her emotions. Within that hour of coming to terms with her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard experiences a joy she never knew about .Accompanying this joy is the rare feeling of freedom she so much longed for and which she seemingly never enjoyed before throughout her marriage. Concerning the reaction to death Chopin notes that, “The vacant stare and the look of terror that followed it went from her eyes… and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body” (360). All this symbolizes the obvious joy and relief from the life that was so full of restrictions. Of course as expected, her first reaction to the news is genuine because she is truly hurt from the loss of her companion. This explains why she sought to be left alone in her room to grieve and weep for her husband. During this alone moment, Mrs. Mallard begins to unconsciously notice many of the things that her eyes were blind to, probably because of the pressures from the marriage. Suddenly, the spring trees are more noticeable, the pure air that follows light showers becomes sweet, and in the calm of all this, a pleasant song is faintly heard. That is not all because the change is also noticed by the patched clouds that calmly give way to a beautiful sunshine. Based on all these changes, it is quite evident that she was unconsciously becoming her real self again. Seemingly, the emotional torment she was used to has now come to an end and in its place, a newfound freedom. Mrs. Mallard comes to this realization when she repeatedly says, “Free! Body and soul free!” (pg.360). She has every reason to be happy given that the cause of her unhappiness is now dead.
To show that indeed marriage tends to oppress women by taking away their freedom, Chopin has used a lot of
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