Free! Body and Soul Free!

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“Free! Body and Soul Free!”
Analysis of The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
Heather Sharpe
ENG125: Introduction to Literature
Mrs. Kristina Stutler
November 7, 2011

“Free! Body and Soul Free!” – Analysis of The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
To be completely unfettered and unrestricted; to live free from the pursuit of meeting someone else’s expectations… this is what Kate Chopin writes about in The Story of an Hour. Using mostly a historical approach, I will highlight the connection between Kate Chopin’s strong voice for women’s recognition, in a time when women were fighting for equality and American feminism was starting to flourish, and the main character in this specific piece, Mrs. Louise Mallard. Being a woman in that turbulent and defining time no doubt had a profound influence on Chopin’s work.

In late nineteenth century America women were starting to make their voices heard. The emergence of feminism brought along with it a renewed strength in women and womankind. After the Civil War, women struggled for a more prominent position in society and this is when Kate Chopin published her works. Although she “was neither a feminist nor a suffragist,” she was “a woman who took women extremely seriously” and she is now known as one of the women who led the way for the feminist authors of the twentieth century (PBS, 2008). The character she develops, Mrs. Mallard, for The Story of an Hour embodies many of the frustrations and hopes of that generation.

In Story, Chopin tells us of the mental and emotional journey Mrs. Mallard undertakes after being told that her husband was killed in a train crash. Initially, Mrs. Mallard was struck hard by the news of her husband’s death and she “wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment” (as cited in Clugston, 2010, 2.2). While this is not an extreme reaction to such news, Chopin draws our attention to the fact that “she did not hear the story as many women have heard the same” highlighting the...
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