A Woman's Brief Freedom In "The Story Of An Hour"

1192 words - 5 pages

"The Story of an Hour", was written and narrated by Kate Chopin. Chopin utilized an omniscient point of view, while exhibiting various types of irony throughout the story. The story takes place in the 19th century, an era when it was acceptable for men to regulate their wives. The setting is in a house where a discontented housewife is restricted. Women were obligated to take care of their domicile and care for the children--this was their primary purpose as a wife. The story focuses on the reaction and emotions of Mrs. Mallard, the protagonist in the story who learns of the death of her spouse.

The narrative begins with Josephine temperately (she does not want the news to trigger Mrs. Mallard's heart condition) informing her sister of the tragic death of Brently Mallard. Knowing, that Mrs. Mallard would need comforting, Richards--who was a close friend of Mr. Mallard, was also there to console her. Situational irony is displayed when Mrs. Mallard laments for a brief moment about the demise of her husband. As soon as the news was broken to her, Mrs. Mallard (the round and dynamic character) instantly accepts her husband's death and grieves for only a moment. "She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance." (Chopin 3). Mourning and feelings of shock were the type of emotions I expected from Mrs. Mallard. However, unbeknownst to the others she was brimming with delight that her spouse was dead.

Seeking solace, Mrs. Mallard retreats to her room, not wanting to be consoled by the people who care about her. One would presume Mrs. Mallard wanted solitude to grieve. Nevertheless, another occurrence of irony is presented when she notices the ambiance outside her window. She takes in the beauty and the newness offered by the spring season. Instead of creating an atmosphere that symbolizes death (dreariness), the writer chose to symbolize spring as: freshness, new beginnings, and liveliness. Mrs. Mallard enjoyed what she viewed from her window. To her this window symbolized independence--freedom from her dwelling. The house symbolizes the Mallard's marriage. It contained baggage--physical and emotional, that held her back. The physical baggage of her spouse was gone. In order for Mrs. Mallard to be, "Free! Body and soul free!" (Chopin 16), she would need to get rid of the emotional memories also.

Mrs. Mallard is sad that her husband is gone and "She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death;" (Chopin 14). However, she looked forward to her new and independent life. "There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself." (Chopin 14). Mrs. Mallard gleefully embraces the fact that she was no longer: attached, married, and even better she was no longer Mrs. Mallard or Brently's wife. Louise was no longer defined by her husband. People would now see Louise...

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