Repression in Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”
Is marriage a perfect union or an inclusive institution? Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” raises this question in the reader’s mind and takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster through the narration of the main character’s inner thoughts and emotions during one of the darkest moments in a person’s life. In addition, the story concludes with a surprising twist that abruptly sends the main character to her grave when she sees that her husband is still alive. No surprise, the author lived during a time when women’s rights were on the forefront as this is apparent in her literary style. The story presents a repressive view of marriage by showing Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts as she regains her self-identity, freedom, and power. The first insight into Chopin’s repressive view of marriage can be seen in the lack of Mrs. Mallard’s self-identity. When Mrs. Mallard’s sister, Josephine tells her the news of Mr. Mallard’s death, the narrator states, “she wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment” (Chopin 15). The main character in “The Story of an Hour” abandons her identity as Mrs. Mallard rather than grieving the loss of her husband, Mr. Mallard. In doing so, she accepts her existence as a unique individual. Josephine comes upstairs and says, “‘Louise, open the door!’” (16). The narrator does not introduce Mrs. Mallard’s first name until this point of the story, even though the reader knows Josephine’s and Richard’s names in the beginning. Through the omission of the wife’s name, Chopin illustrates the constraints marriage has on the main character’s self-identity, as well as her overall freedom. The next way Chopin reveals her opinion of repression in marriage is by the lack of Mrs. Mallard’s carnal freedom. After Mrs. Mallard sits facing the open window where she sees the new spring life, she senses a vague emotion coming towards her, and then she whispers, “‘free, free, free!’” (Chopin 15). As a...
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