“The Story of an hour” was written in 1894 by Kate Chopin. This story is related to a woman who experienced true freedom after the erroneously reported death of her husband. This story is related to the boundaries that are being imposed by society on women in the nineteenth century. Kate Chopin instead of only written this is also a character in the story who experienced the domination by the male in society after the death of her husband at a very young age. Life is a mixture of both happiness and sadness, and it is full of surprises, as no one knows but will happen in the next moment. In this story, Kate Chopin gave the example of a situation when the wife became a victim in the relations of the family. This story explores the way in which society works, about the concepts of gender, about the objections on the women, about the institutionalization of marriage, about oppressing the women, and also about erasing the desires of the women. Moreover, this story tells that how women eventually became the counterparts to their husbands, with no identity, no voice, and no desires. This research paper discusses the concept of freedom for a woman.
Over the past, women have been expected to be subservient to men, and also considered as the inferior sex. Women were given no right to share her opinion, or make decisions, or show her talents as always these things are only related to the men. Kate Chopin in her story discusses the subject of marriage and how an alliance of the family influence the freedom of the individual. As looked in the background of the story, we get the idea that what did Mrs. Mallard’s marriage meant to her. She was a young girl who seems to be very happy with her married life, and she was deeply in love with her husband. But then her sister and the friend of her husband brought the news of her husband’s death, which made her very sorrow. Her first reaction after that news crying as described in the story “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms” (Chopin, 1-2).
Although she felt grief at first, soon after that grief goes, she started to feel happier inside. She started to realize that now she got free from that marriage as the marriage was like a duty to her, because she only had to obey the orders of her husband every time, and she should not be had any right to make a decision or give any advice in the family matters. But as got the feeling that she is not a slave anymore, her initial grief and sadness turned in to extreme happiness. Now she got the feeling that she is free and that “gray cloud” is not in her head anymore that was the reason behind the capturing of her happiness. That gray cloud means that the shadow overhead was the domination of her husband from which she finally gets freed. Author’s idea of this story is related to the fact that in the 19th-century women were not treat equally to the men, as they don’t have the right to vote in the election with some minor exceptions. Moreover, in the 19th century, the jobs for women were very limited, and they were facing a very low wage work in the industries like the needlework, and the mill job (Call, 1-7). They were only paid 12.5 cents per day that was too much less as compared with the pay of the man. Women were considered to stay at home and a source of producing the children and then raising them.
The author described as after the death of her husband, she went to her room and then gradually as the time passes, she began to realized that finally she is free and can make her own choices, and own decisions. This is stated by the author in the story that she kept whispering “Free!Body and soul free!”. Moreover, the happiness of Mrs. Mallard was due to thought and vision of getting a new life and new future. As she was aware of the fact that she only had this marriage life, but she also got the feeling that she had an opportunity for spending her life on her own rule. The author concept was not about a bad or abusive marriage, but instead, the main subject of the story is the institution of marriage in the nineteen century, where women had no right to decide, or choose anything for her or her family. Women were entirely under the will of their husbands who made every decision, for family and even for the women. Author’s concept is the had nothing to do with the marriage, but freedom from everything that imposed the will of someone else upon women (Berkove, 152-158). The author states that although the marriage of Mrs. Mallard was good, in the views of Mrs. Mallard it was not a happy marriage as she had no right to make her own decision, and she had to live under someone’s else will.
As the story continued, Mrs. Mallard was dug deep in the joy of her freedom when the disaster struck her. Her husband walked into her room, who was supposed to be dead. Mrs. Mallard joys and happiness vanished suddenly as her dreams of freedom shattered in front of her, and she started to realize that now she again had to live her life under the will of her husband. Everything got back to the old times and that “gray cloud” returned into her life and now again her freedom, her sunshine got covered under the will of her husband. She didn’t tolerate that return of her husband, and she got a heart attack and died. Doctors said that the joy killed her, but no one understands the fact that she died because of the sad reality that she had to spend her life under the will of her husband again.
It is being clear by reading “The story of an hour” that the Mrs. Mallard marriage was not the victim of abusive marriage as while sitting in the room she admits that “she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death, the face that never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead”. As this shows that her husband loved towards her, in spite of this, she wanted to live a life of her own will and freedom. Kate Chopin in “The story of an hour” focused on a point that women had given no rights by the society in the nineteen century to choose how to live their own life. As a character in the story, she stated that she wanted the opportunities that were not available to the women, instead that were available to the men only. She states that women had only one condition at that time to go from her father’s home towards the home to her husband. Women were not be asked that either they wanted to work or wanted to go the college. They were only the slave of someone’s else will.
The Author may be deliberated as the early feminist in the 19th century. She gave the idea that the life of a woman may indeed be better if she had not to live under the will of her husband. Moreover, in the nineteen century it was considered that the women were the lesser sex and therefore, the man should have the right to make all the decisions of the family (Deneau, 210-213). Her story discusses the suppression of the women in the marriage, and historical reality that how women were treated in the nineteen century. Moreover, the author states that marriage take the right of someone’s own will from them, and the marriage then became the imposition of private wills on them. She believed that there should be the equality between the men and the women in the marriage life. Women should have the rights to make her own decisions, to share her own opinion, and to show her ability (Lee, 59). Women should have the right to make her own decisions by herself and should have the right to live a life in the manner she wants to live. There should not be a shadow of husband on her own will. She illustrates the idea that instead of spending whole life like a slave, it is better to live an hour of freedom.
Kate Chopin story “The Story of an Hour” illustrates the harsh reality of the nineteen century where women had no power on her own will, and how she was the slave of her husband’s will. Women were not given equality towards men in the society, and they were considered as lesser sex. The author illustrates that living an hour of freedom is even better than spending whole life under the will of the husband.
Berkove, Lawrence I. “Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s” The Story of an Hour.” American Literary Realism 32.2 (2000): 152-158.
Call, Tanner. “Patriarchy & Feminism in the Early 20th Century: Finding Middle Ground Through Kate Chopin.” (2017).
Chopin, Kate. “The story of an hour.” (2018).
Deneau, Daniel P. “Chopin’s the Story of an Hour.” The Explicator 61.4 (2003): 210-213.
Lee, Chaeyoung. “Finding the Self: Tragic Self-Discovery in Kate Chopin’s Fiction.” ThePPEREVIEW (2015): 59.