7 February 2012
With Death Comes Rebirth
In the early nineteenth century, women were expected to find their identities through their husbands and children. It was unorthodox for a woman to challenge the norm by becoming independent from her husband. In Kate Chopin’s short story, Story of an Hour, she addresses feminist issues that are before her time. She uses her main character, Louise, to convey her message through an everyday, yet controversial issue. Louise Mallard was a woman oppressed in her marriage, but discovered freedom and individuality in the unexpected tragedy of her husband’s death. Kate Chopin’s message of feminism is first evident when she does not give Mrs. Mallard’s name in the beginning of the piece; she is referred to only as Mrs. Mallard or the wife of Brently Mallard. She is not called Louise until after she speaks of her epiphany, and she is certainly not called Louise by a man. Only her sister, Josephine, refers to her by her first name. Perhaps the timing of her actual name being revealed is because she finds her sense of identity in her husband’s death. She no longer belongs to him; she is finally her own person. The opening line in Chopin’s story is, “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death.” (Chopin 705) To me this shows that Brently Mallard’s friend, Richards, was trying to be the chivalric hero by ensuring that the devastating story is broken to Mrs. Mallard easily. It seems he assumed she would be in shambles when she heard the news about her husband’s death. Perhaps he thinks she is weak, and will have a hard time accepting the truth. The news could possibly cause her already frail heart to fail because surely she cannot survive without her husband. “…hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.” (Chopin 705) He seemed to think that he was the only one worthy...
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