30 September 2018
A Critical Analysis: Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”
Kate Chopin's “The Story of an Hour”, is a short story, covering only an hour of the ironic story of Louise Mallard and her reaction to finding out about her husband’s death. The story characterizes Louise Mallard as a woman with “heart trouble”. It reveals the main character Mrs. Mallard, wanted to be free of marriage and she wanted to be liberated as a woman who can choose her own fate. Upon hearing the tragic death of her husband her reaction led to sudden and tragic turn of events, making the modern readers think that she was devastated about her husband’s death. At the end of the story, her husband who never knew about the accident stepped at the door of their house. When she saw him, she had a heart attack and died.
In what seemed to be a long pause the protagonist, Louise Mallard, shows her inner most desires, that of being finally free of the dominance of a man; her husband. The readers initially cannot associate her “heart troubles” with that of a constrained and oppressed life, but, this foreshadows and symbolizes her emotional state as a wife, and a woman (two different things in her mind). This for example brings into question the validity of her marriage as being something she in not fond of. Thus, it is best written in the following article of Jennifer Hicks:
Mrs. Mallard, the young “repressed” woman who began to look at her widowhood as a rebirth, like the “new spring” outside her window, did not die from such excitement. She expired from “a heart problem”—an instantaneous knowledge that her momentary glimpse into a “life she would live for herself,” a “life that might be long,” was not to be. (Hicks 2002).
The irony is that of how the turn of events seem to sweep the “rug under her feet” in a moment of great and purposeful clarity for the life that Mrs. Mallard would have wanted. The dark irony is that, death is better than living and that such an injustice is dealt to her by unforeseen and unfortunate events. There might also be additional reasons to her discontent in her marriage as stated in the story, when Louise whispered “Free!, Body and soul free!” (Meyer), it obviously notes that there is something wrong about the relationship between the Mallards.
Kate Chopin uses symbolism in several ways along with dramatic styles to heighten up the story. She symbolizes the “heart” at the beginning to bring in ideas of emotional fruition as well as to mask deeper meaning of someone's soul and their desires. Thus, her death represents the futility of her freedom. Louise's death, suggesting divorce as an escape option instead of death, an indication of their contemporary context. (Diederich 2012).
In addition, the Chopin's use and placement in the story is quite incidental, the story opens with the narrator telling that “Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble (Meyer 15).” A quick reading of ...