February 6, 2013
Finding the Theme of “The Story of an Hour”
After reading “The Story of an Hour” many things have become apparent, like the fact that not every relationship can be as easily read as a book and that there is usually more than meets the eye when it comes to relationships. This story was written in 1894, by Kate Chopin and is now considered a piece of feminine literature. There is a massive amount of irony and quite a lot of symbolism in this story as well. This story was written during a time when women had close to no rights and were basically an extension of their husband. Many women just accepted the fact that they were not going to be able to have the freedom to make decisions for themselves and just let themselves be ruled by their husband or significant other. So after reading this story many times and going through very small details it has become clear that the theme is that people need to experience the joy of their forbidden joy of independence to be happy. In the story Mrs. Mallard has heart problems and it starts off with her sister Josephine trying to break her some very terrible news, her husband has died in a freak train accident, after hearing this news Mrs. Mallard she is very shocked and her reaction is what anyone would expect from a wife who has just learned that her husband had been killed. After a while her thoughts began to change a little bit, and she started feeling a new feeling, a feeling she hadn’t felt in such a long time, she started feeling freedom. She felt guilty for feeling this way and knew she was supposed to be frantically crying and rolling on the floor, but instead she felt like her soul had been set free from the jail of being married as a woman in that time. The story takes a very shocking and ironic turn when she finds out there had been a mistake made and that her husband actually did not die. After seeing him walk through the door all of her previous visions for her future came crashing down, she then had a heart attack and died. In the beginning of this story there are quite a few hints like the very first sentence “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death.”(Chopin 246) The heart trouble that afflicts Louise is both a physical and symbolic malady that represents her feelings toward her marriage and unhappiness with her lack of freedom. The fact that Louise has heart trouble is the first thing we learn about her, and this heart trouble is what seems to make the announcement of Brently’s death so threatening. A person with a weak heart, after all, would not deal well with such news. When Louise reflects on her new independence, her heart races, pumping blood through her veins. (Craig) When she dies at the end of the story, the diagnosis of “heart disease” seems appropriate because the shock of seeing Brently was surely enough to kill her. But the doctors’ conclusion that she’d died of overwhelming joy is ironic because it had been the loss of joy that had actually killed her. Louise seems to have died of a broken heart, caused by the sudden loss of her much-loved independence. There are so many examples of symbolism in this story, like when she notices white clouds and white sunlight, white meaning freedom, and unchaining herself from the shackles that were her marriage. Another very symbolic part of the story is when she begins to see the world through new eyes, as if she had never felt this type of freedom before in her life. Even though she was very sad for the death of her husband somehow it was also an eye opening even for her because it opened up all of these doors or opportunities and decisions she was going to be able to make now that she was a widow. Her own feelings of love in return are also minimally described and it is clear that she does not share his sentiments. The narrator relates in one of the quotes from “Story of an Hour” by...
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