Love and Repression in Chopin's "Story of an Hour"

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What's Love Got to Do With It:
Love and Self-repression in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"

Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" teaches us the importance of not repressing who we really are, forsaking our own happiness just to please someone else. "The Story of an Hour" is about a young woman, Louise Mallard, who finds out her husband was killed in an accident. In the story, we follow Louise Mallard in the hour following the receipt of the news of her husband's death, through her period if grief and into her revelation if new found freedom. The story ends with a final twist, Louise Mallard's husband walks in the door, oblivious to the situation, and she dies instantly of " heart disease--of the joy that kills (413)." The hour spent looking into Louise Mallard's life is meant to serve as a warning against giving up one's self completely in love and marriage. Chopin teaches us that in marriage we often repress our own feelings and desires, in the pursuit of pleasing our partner, to the point of losing site of who we really are.

Chopin begins to express her advise against self-repression in her description of Louise Mallard. After she receives the news of her husbands passing, she retreats to a roomy armchair in her room over looking an open square outside her window. Chopin describes her with these words:

She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought. (412)

From Chopin's description, we see that Louise Mallard wears her self-repression on her face for the entire world to see. In her time spent in the chair, all intelligent thought is gone as she ponders her current situation. Yet even thought she has repressed her own feelings and desires, she still possesses a "certain strength...
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