Character Analysis of Mrs. Mallard in Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”
Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” explores a woman’s unexpected reaction to her husband’s assumed death and reappearance, but actually Chopin offers Mrs. Mallard’s bizarre story to reveal problems that are built-in to the marriage. By offering this depiction of a marriage that confuses the woman to the point that she celebrates the death of her kind and loving husband, Chopin challenges her readers to look at their own views of marriage and relationships between men and women. Each readers judgment of Mrs. Mallard and her behavior eventually stems from their own personal feelings about marriage and the influences of expectations in our society. Readers of different genders, ages, and marital experiences are, probably going to react differently to Chopin’s description of the Mallards’ marriage, and that is very true of my response to the story that is compared to my father’s and grandmother’s responses.
Marriage makes boundaries between people that make them unable to communicate with each other. The Mallards’ marriage was really crippled by both their inability to talk to one another and Mrs. Mallard’s determination that her marriage was made by a “powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” But she doesn’t recognize that it is not just men who put their will upon women and that the problems in marriage affect men and women equally. To me, Mrs. Mallard is a very sympathetic character, and I appreciate her will to live out the “years to come that would belong to her absolutely.” However, I also believe that she could have tried to improve her own situation a little, either by reaching out to her husband or by letting go of the marriage...
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