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Historical/Cultural Analysis Essay for Story of an Hour


The Story of an Hour was written in 1894 by Kate Chopin, it was about the tragic event happened in the life of Mrs. Louise Mallard. The story started with a sad new of Mr. Brently Mallard’s death in a railroad accident. Richards was the friend of Mallard, who knew about this news and informed Mallard’s wife immediately. Mrs. Mallard was a heart patient and could not bear such sad news, so he informed her with great care about her husband’s demise. Josephine was the sister of Louise, and she was taking her responsibility after this heartbreaking and horrible news. When Louise learned about it, she breaks down completely and goes wild with sorrow.

The storm of grief made her confined to her bedroom. She was physically exhausted and sitting in her bedroom, viewing at the blue sky from the window of her room. She was hearing the voice of singing songs of sparrows and twittering madly somewhere. At that time she was young and struggling to keep herself free from this grief. She was whispering the word “free” continuously, as she believed that she will be free from the burden of this relation. She believed that her husband didn’t love her, and she felt suffocated with him. So after his death, she can be a free soul and a free body.

One day her sister Josephine came and asked her to open the door of her room, she found that Mr. Mallard was alive and he was far from the accident place. It happened quite quickly, and it was another shocking news for her, which killed Louise at once. When the doctor arrived he told me that she has died due to her heart disease. The story was narrated by the third person, it was about a woman who was considered vulnerable and weak. She was never loved by her husband and was trapped in a loveless relationship. This news was a kind of rebirth for her. Through this story, the author presented a theme of the social issue of gender in a male-dominant society. Jamil (2009) analyzed the feminine emotions and the selfness of a woman from this story. Louise Mallard had a physical ailment of heart, however, it was greatly exaggerated and her family was highly concerned about her health issue. However, she was a woman who was unconsciously surrendered to the paternalism culture. In fact, in the 19th century married life for a woman was a kind of slavery and woman was not expected to think about her personal space and self-assertion.

Thesis Statment

The main theme of this story was about the position of a woman in the 19th century, women were facing identity crises. That was the reason for her shock at the unexpected return of her husband. This story highlighted the issues of women in the male-dominant society in the 19th century. At that time the married life for a woman was like a prison. This paper will describe feminist issues such as; love, marriage, sex, and independence in the 19th century.

Love and gender in Kate Chopin’s Age:

The author of this story was born in 1850 in Missouri and was reared in a complex situation when she was only five her father died, She was reared by her grandmother, and she lived her life with other females in her family with no male, her family included great grandmother and nuns. Kate Chopin married Oscar Chopin and shifted to New Orleans with her husband, she had six kids. She believed in a woman’s independence, and she argued passionately about the social problems of women. She was young when her husband unexpectedly demised, she mourned her husband’s death deeply, however, she came out of this mourn soon and had an affair with a married person. She like Louise felt great freedom after her husband’s death and moved to St. Louis and spent the rest of her life there. She died at the age of 52, in 1902. In her other books, she raised the social issues of feminism such as independence and sexual freedom, however, her readers didn’t accept in the male-dominant society. Chopin was one of the pioneer writers for addressing feminist issues, she raised voice for the movement of feminism which became a major political and social issue in the 20th century in the USA. When she wrote about this issue the movement of feminists barely begun, at that time women were considered the lawful property of men.

The Story reflected her thoughts about the role of marriage for women as the protagonist. Louise Mallard the main character of the story was feeling immense freedom when she learned about her husband’s death. According to Wang (2007) Louise didn’t get all the freedom she was expecting after her husband’s death because society was dominated by males, and complete freedom for women in society was not acceptable. However, she was looking for self-assertion in a very sympathetic way. Freedom was not for women in such a hostile environment where patriarchal dominancy was greatly in practice. She realized that the society is not in favor of female independence and self-assertion, and faced resistance from family, and her social circle.

Feminism in the 19th century:

Wan (2009)argued that women were oppressed in the 19th century and their lives were limited to home only, they had no right to vote, they were not allowed to participate in any political and social gatherings. Females at that time were not allowed to be part of any decision regarding political, social, psychological and economic issues. Women had no right to think and give some ideas regarding issues, their opinions and ideas were suppressed and had no significance. The author of this story reflected on these issues, and she bluntly talked about these basic rights of women, she believed that women are also the part of society and they are able to participate in all matters of the society which was considered unruly and immoral at that time. In the 19th century in Europe and America women were confined to housebound, and take care of rearing children, cleaning, and cooking. While men had a dominant role to live a public life, socializing with men in public places such as working in factories, going to clubs, bars, and meetings. Women were considered the private property of their men. They were not allowed to education, voting, and paid to work. The free time of women was not supposed to spend socializing with other women, but only did laundry, sewing, and cooking, etc.

In the 19th century, fewer women were allowed to have the same opportunities for education, writing or participate in public gatherings. Women were shut out of any political activities and decision makings. Women in America were barely considered as people at all. However, in previous centuries, there were some examples of women monarchs, which were largely possible by some incidents of death of their male heirs. At the beginning of the 19th-century, women’s rights movement started, and the writings of Chopin reflected these issues. This movement was initially started by the lower and middle-class women who were deprived of their husbands’ attitudes to spending money in bars on alcohol. These like-minded women started a movement for their rights. The feminist movement in the 19th and early 20th centuries’ major achievement was political equality. In the second wave, they pushed for professional and legal equality in the 1960s, and later on, they pushed for social equality.

Feminism in the modern age:

Social equality is hard to measure, unlike the political and legal equality. So in the modern age, we can feel some measurement problems. For instance, women in most organizations are paid less than men. Most of the world’s societies are still male-dominant, and men are on key positions in most of the organizations. So in hiring mostly, they prefer male candidates over female counterparts. Despite the biological differences, men grew up in the culture of masculinity, which is not healthy for women and also for men. Women of previous generations were fighting for the change they desired, while the modern age women are struggling to enforce thoughts and perceptions about women, and trying to become the women they wish others to see. Women are still facing harassment and stereotypes in industries. For centuries women were discounted and marginalized by men, women are still facing issues of rapes, harassments and being ignored to some extent in society. Chopin took interest in feminist topics and this short story she reflected on woman’s emotions, freedom, and the role of society (Call, 2017).


Based on the analysis of Story of an Hour of Kate Chopin, we can conclude that the main character of this story Louise Mallard belonged to a dynamic character, and she changed her perceptions from beginning to the end of this story. There are some views of an unfaithful and ungrateful woman in her personality, some scholars believed that she was loved by her husband and she didn’t love him in return (Chongyue & Wang, 2013). Her husband was an older man, and he allowed her sister to live with them and enjoy a comfortable life. On the other hand, we learned about feminism related issues, the married life of a woman in the 19th century was like a prison. There was no freedom for women, and they were considered the property of men. She was oppressed by her marriage, and she wanted freedom in her life. After knowing about her husband’s death, she chooses to start a new life and tried to break the patriarchy system fro society. At that time women were supposed to follow their husbands’ words, and they didn’t get their complete rights of life. The main theme of Chopin’s story was to highlight the freedom and selfness of women, it was a contribution to the feminist movement.

Works Cited

Call, Tanner. “Patriarchy & Feminism in the Early 20th Century: Finding Middle Ground Through Kate Chopin.” (2017).

Chongyue, Li, and Wang Lihua. “A Caricature of an Ungrateful and Unfaithful Wife-A New Interpretation of The Story of an Hour.” English Language and Literature Studies 3.2 (2013): 90.

Jamil, S. Selina. “Emotions in the Story of an Hour.” The Explicator 67.3 (2009): 215-220.

Wan, Xuemei. “Kate Chopin’s View on Death and Freedom in” The Story of an Hour”.” English Language Teaching 2.4 (2009): 167-170.

Wang, Xuding. “Feminine Self-Assertion in the Story of an Hour’.” English Department, Tamkang University, Taiwan [1] (2007).



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