After reading “the Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, I was surprised at the unexpected events that lead to Mrs. Mallard’s death. Through elaborated setting, profound feelings and enriching plot, the theme of the story was gradually revealed and brought out an astonishing ending to both Louise’s life and miserable marriage.
The settings took place both in outside and inside environments. As informed of her husband’s death, Louise begins to make the first expressions. Unlike other women being immobilized and denial, she became anguished but went to her room alone. Here the audience expects her to moan in deep sorrow, but instead she sits calmly, sinking down into a comfortable spacious armchair looking out to window. She describes the smell of the air in the room as “the delicious breath of rain”. She sees the trees outside in the yard quivering in “new spring life”- something outside is being reborn just like her inner self. Her inside environment in fact has a soothing feeling despite the depressing event.
Louise’s feelings observed through a third person view little by little divulge her story. She whispered: “free, free, free!” uncontrollably with “a monstrous joy.” It is freedom that she has been battling to feel for the many years married to her man. She tried to defend herself by rambling on about how she used to love her husband sometimes, but she cannot hide the delighted actuality that she has her freedom back once again. To her the marriage was a prison; her life belonged to her husband with the social belief that such thing would make a woman’s life fulfilled. She releases all the stress and emotions that had been building up all the passing years. It is devastating, as she describes it, “her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.” Now she yearns to live more, to enjoy her freedom once again, contrasting to what she thought the day before “with a shudder that life might be long.
“The turning point is when Louise saw her husband opening the door coming back alive. Chopin’s satirical plot leaves an open understanding of Mrs. Mallard’s death. It is irony that in the beginning of the story she was said to have a heart trouble, her relative tried to use the gentlest way to inform her of Brently Mallard’s death. The reality is she feels glad about her husband being forever absent from her life, and as she is willing to enjoy the world again, her husband comes back. Louise finally became the one to die in the end. Perhaps “freedom” of mind and body is more valuable than life itself. Therefore, after this intervention, going back to the confines of marriage would be killing the life and heart of Louise, thus death is the only solution and of course the “heart condition” foreshadowing an impending death.
In conclusion, I enjoyed Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” and found her unique writing style beautiful. It only sheds its secrets through vague details yet brings a strong emotion to a twisted and painful story of the suffering women in the conservative nineteenth century society.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour.1894. Rpt. in Compact LiteratureReading Reacting Writing. By Kirszner and Mandell. 6th ed. Boston, MA: 2007.