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English 101/Section #
"The Story of an Hour" is a short story in which Kate Chopin, the author, presents an often unheard of view of marriage. Mrs. Louise Mallard, Chopin's main character, experiences the exhilaration of freedom rather than the desolation of loneliness after she learns of her husband's death. Later, when Mrs. Mallard learns that her husband, Brently, still lives, she know that all hope of freedom is gone. The crushing disappointment kills Mrs. Mallard. Published in the late eighteen hundreds, the oppressive nature of marriage in "The Story of an Hour" may well be a reflection of, though not exclusive to, that era.
Though Chopin relates Mrs. Mallard's story, she does not do so in first person. Chopin reveals the story through a narrator's voice. The narrator is not simply an observer, however. The narrator knows, for example, that Mrs. Mallard, for the most part, did not love her husband (paragraph 15). It is obvious that the narrator knows more than can be physically observed. Chopin, however, never tells the reader what Mrs. Mallard is feeling. Instead, the reader must look into Mrs. Mallard's actions and words in order to understand what Mrs. Mallard feels.
Mrs. Mallard is held back in her marriage. The lines of her face "bespoke repression" (paragraph 8). When Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband's death, she knows that there will "be no powerful will bending her" (paragraph 14). There will be no husband who believes he has the "right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature" (paragraph 14). Mrs. Mallard acknowledges that her husband loved her. Brently had only ever looked at Mrs. Mallard with love (paragraph 13). This information implies to the reader that Brently is not a bad man; he simply believes that it is his right, and perhaps his obligation as a husband, to direct Mrs. Mallard in everything she does. When Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband's death, she realizes that he will no longer be there to repress her; there will be no one, save her, to direct her will. Then, in a crushing blow, everything she has just realized and begun to look forward to is stolen from her grasp.
Upon learning of her husband's death, Mrs. Mallard realizes that she is now free. She repeats the words "Free, free, free!" (paragraph 11) and feels...