Essay, Research Paper: Story Of An Hour

Literature: Kate Chopin

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The protagonist character Louise Mallard in Kate Chopin’s “The Story of An
Hour” portrays a wife’s unexpected response to her husband’s death. The
narrator divulges to the reader modest but convincing hints of Mrs. Mallards
newly discovered freedom. This newly discovered freedom would be short lived for
Mrs. Mallard. Mrs. Mallard, who suffers from heart disease, was portrayed as an
average wife who breaks down into a fit of distress from the fateful news of her
husband’s death. She retreats to her room to come to grips with the tragedy
but finds instead something unexpected in herself. The tears and emotions soon
turned to confusion as Mrs. Mallard came to realize the reality that she was not
necessarily crying over the loss of her husband but of his death. Mrs. Mallard
admits that Mr. Mallard is a good husband but that she detests the bondage of
being husband and wife and she no longer wants the will of another forced upon
her. The time of her new found freedom was revealed when she begins to whisper
“free” over and over to denote that she is no longer under the will of
another person. The depth of Louise’s bondage known as marriage was more than
she could stand and she was wishing for a short-lived life just the day before
the accident. With her husbands death she was wishing for a long life to enjoy
her newfound freedom. Mr. Mallard is not the tyrant who holds Louise in this
bondage but instead it was the institution of marriage itself that entraps her.
The imagery in the story helps set her characters new found freedom from the
trees “aquiver” with new life denoting her new found life to the cloud’s
shadow representing her married life casting shadows on her happiness. The
conflict that Louise Mallard feels is not with her husband or herself but that
of the cultural institution of marriage. This conflict was so profoundly
ingrained in Louise that when she discovers that her husband was not dead and
she was not free, death was the only escape from the internal conflict of
personal freedom. The conflict in “ The Story of An Hour” was centered on
Mrs. Mallard’s lost personal freedom when she married her husband and became
obedient to his stronger will. This personal conflict is prevalent in most
married people but is not normally an over bearing conflict as was encountered
within Mrs. Mallard.

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