Appearance vs. Reality: Relief or Release in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"

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A common theme in literature is appearance versus reality, and this theme is also apparent in the present world. People often choose to believe that the lives of their friends are as they seem. This happens to be a major mistake in society as well as in literature because it is not always possible to predict the inner emotions of others. The error of inaccurate judgment is portrayed in “The Story of an Hour” through the character Louise Mallard. The audience assumes that Louise is distraught by the death of her husband. Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” demonstrates how Louise Mallard finds relief by realizing that she is free, life will be gloriously long, and that the magnitude true release comes in unexpected means (“Story” 424- 7).

The initial reaction of Louise Mallard is sorrow about the recent death of her husband. She does not experience the original denial most women would undergo in the same situation (425). Upon hearing the news, Louise wept in her sister’s arms with a “storm of grief”, and after being calmed she went to her room to digest the information. Louise begins to find relief through her mourning because she recognizes the freedom that was lost in her marriage reappearing (425-6). Chopin uses the open window to display the presence of spring which symbolizes rebirth (Myers). Louise Mallard starts grasping the fact that she will have this rebirth and be able to begin living her life again. The appearance of authentic suffering became the reality of a woman taking in the certainty that she will be capable of living for herself (426). Louise Mallard experiences the feeling of true freedom, and she gets over the death of her husband without a large amount of difficulty.

Louise Mallard not only feels free, but she also recognizes that the life she marked as intolerably long will be extensive and full (426). She may not have been physically abused, but the expectations of the women of her time were enough to render prisoner like...
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