7 January 2009
An Analysis of “The Story of an Hour”
Written in 1894, “The Story of an Hour” is a story of a woman who, through the erroneously reported death of her husband, experienced true freedom and happiness. Both tragic and ironic, the story deals with the boundaries imposed on women by society in the nineteenth century. The author Kate Chopin, like the character in her story, had first-hand experience with the male-dominated society of that time and had experienced the death of her husband at a young age. The similarity between Kate Chopin and her heroine can only leave us to wonder how much of this story is fiction and how much is personal experience.
Indeed, Louise Mallard and Kate Chopin’s lives are very similar. Louise’s life began once she came to the realization that she could live for herself. During this “hour” she felt true joy and freedom, but her life ended abruptly as her husband walked through the door. Like Mrs. Mallard, Chopin’s writing career began once her husband died. She wrote a few collections of short stories, but when she began expressing her feminist views, the critics walked through the door and her life as a writer was over.
The background of the story gives us the idea of what Mrs. Mallard’s marriage meant to her. We see a picture of a young well-to-do wife who seems to be very pleased with her life. We also get the
impression that she was deeply in love with her husband. The news, brought by her sister and her husband’s friend Richards about his death, filled her with a big sorrow: “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms” (394). This was her first reaction, but, in fact, Louise reacted as most wives would react. After her initial emotions she went to another room to be by herself. Next, Chopin writes “There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable roomy armchair. Into this she sank,...