Defying Social Expectations

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“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is an intriguing story that focuses on the feelings of a recently widowed woman. It takes place in the late 1800’s in the home of a Mrs. Mallard. The story brings us through the rollercoaster of emotions that Mrs. Mallard goes threw when she hears of her husband’s sudden death. From the moment she finds out about her husbands death until the end of the story Mrs. Mallards reactions continuously defy the social expectations of her time. From the beginning of the story we know that Mrs. Mallard is different from the average women of her generation. Chopin makes this clear by saying “she did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment.”(197) This shows the difference in her reaction compared to other women. When a wife first hears of her husband’s death she is likely to be shocked or deny the news; needing time to realize what has happened. Mrs. Mallard on the other hand broke into tears at once with little control of her emotions. Although at first this may seem like an act of sadness and depression we further realize that the difference in reaction proves deeper feeling of confusion for Mrs. Mallard. She was not sure of what to feel or how to react to the news. Although she was saddened by the loss of her husband she felt unsure of what the future would hold and if her husbands death was in fact have a positive effect on her life. Once she moved to the privacy of her own room Mrs. Mallard’s emotions began to change. Chopin depicts this scene by explaining that “She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her head, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dream.” (198) We see that Mrs. Mallard has moved into a state of numbness as she contemplates the news. While in this state she begins to have mixed...
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