« Prognosing Edith Wharton's “Roman Fever” | Main | William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” »

January 30, 2012

KATE CHOPIN's “The Story of an Hour”

Image Source:http://www.classic-library.org.ua/data/chopin-kate.jpg

KATE CHOPIN, “The Story of an Hour”

Posted by lhobbs at January 30, 2012 07:27 PM

Readers' Comments:

Brittany Thunberg

Dr. Hobbs

Academic Writing II CA16


(Chopin,Kate. “The Story of an Hour.”Writing about Literature by Edgar V. Roberts. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson 2006. 205-06.)

Joy Kills

“The Story of an Hour” written by Kate Chopin tells the story of a woman with a heart condition, Louise Mallard, discovering her husband’s death. When Mrs. Mallard receives word that her husband has died; her reaction is somewhat difficult to interpret. However, using irony and symbolism Chopin helps convey to readers the main point of “The Story of an Hour.”
The first thing the reader is made aware of is that Mrs. Mallard has a heart condition. The fact that Mrs. Mallard is suffering from a serious heart problem makes it harder to break the news of her husband’s death to her. After her sister, Josephine, explains to Mrs. Mallard that her husband has been killed in a train accident she immediately is overcome with sadness and begins to weep. However, Mrs. Mallard does not cry for long. She suddenly realizes that she is free. Chopin emphasized that under her breathe she exclaims, “free, free, free!” (Chopin 205) Although Mrs. Mallard is relieved to be free of her husband’s reign over her, she is also conflicted. This is due to the fact that she knows the emotion she should be feeling is sorrow because her husband is dead. Nevertheless, joy outweighs the sadness because she is now free to live her life the way she desires with no restrictions. She takes some time to sit and think about what she plans to do with her life now that she is completely in control of it.
After sitting alone in her room for some time Mrs. Mallard proceeds to come down the stairs with her sister. As Mrs. Mallard reaches the bottom of the stairs Mr. Mallard walks in through the front door. As it turns out the word of Mr. Mallard’s death was a mistake and he was nowhere near the train accident. When Mrs. Mallard sees her husband and realizes he is in fact alive, she instantly dies. The doctor tells Josephine, Richards, and Mr. Mallard, “she died of a heart disease-of joy that kills.”(Chopin 206) In “The Story of an Hour” the main point Chopin is trying to convey to the reader is the struggle women had to endure during this time period within a marriage. In this time period women were not respected and they were meant to serve their husband and tend to his needs constantly.
Many women, like Mrs. Mallard, did not have a life of their own. Mrs. Mallard’s life revolved solely around her husband. This is why when she believed he was dead, the idea of being able to live life without him was something to look forward to and something she yearned for. Chopin makes her final attempt at leaving an impression on the reader when she kills the character of Mrs. Mallard. This is also where Chopin uses irony to convey her main point to the reader. The irony that must be understood is that Mrs. Mallard was fighting for her life to begin with and when she discovers her husband’s death, instead of wanting to give up on her own life, it is just the opposite. This is due to the fact that Mrs. Mallard’s desire to live her own life is so great that it gives her hope for the future. However, when she realizes that her husband is alive, she dies. This could be solely due to her heart condition or it could be Mrs. Mallard giving up on any chance for a life of her own.

Posted by: Brittany Thunberg at January 20, 2009 09:33 AM

Allyn Tuff
Dr. Hobbs
English 121 CA 16
Story of an Hour
When people read the short story of The story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin, I have heard many believe the main point of the story is to illustrate how wives of that of that time period were treated wrong. When I read the story, I found that the main point of the story was to display an example of how life can be ironic. This discovery has led me to elaborate on this matter through close reading.
To start off, when Louise Mallard found out that her husband died, she did not go through the stages of depression and disbelief, but she found that she was in a sense relieved. When I read this part of the story I found myself caught off guard because of the rebellious style of writing, and it was ironic because of the fact that most wives would be grieving the loss of their husband, whereas Louise was relieved and actually got excited about her new life of freedom.
Another example of irony the Chopin put into this story is when Louise goes into the room after hearing the news, Chopin puts the story into these words. “She could see the open square before her house the tops of the trees were all aquiver with new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below was a peddler crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and the countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.” (Chopin 79) Instead of putting in dark and gloomy words to describe what she is looking at, she put a rather bright and glamorous style of writing in the story. In my opinion, this is a way of Chopin being going out of her way to make sure we know that the point of this story is to show irony.
Finally, Kate Chopin shows irony in the end of the story by death. Usually in a story, an author will make an ending that goes along with the story. In the beginning of the story Chopin states that Louise has a heart condition, and then puts it away by the sister breaking the news up in little bits. Then it had me forget that she had a heart problem by telling the story in a bright and uplifting manner. When it tells that Louise had died it surprised me because the whole story had been about her gaining joy, and then the last thing that happens is she dies.
In my opinion, the way that Kate Chopin puts the irony into the story is genius, and should be recognized. She explained it through Louise being exited about freedom, through a description of a scene out of her window, and through death. The best example of irony is explained through paragraph two with close reading.

Works Cited
Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." Balkun, Mary McAleer. A Prentice Hall Pocket Reader. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., 2005. 79-81.

Posted by: Allyn Tuff at January 26, 2009 04:05 PM

Sonia Perez
Dr. Lee Hobbs
Academic Writing 2 Eng 122 CA16
3 February 2009

The Round Protagonist in “Story of an Hour”
According to Roberts, a round character is a person that changes throughout the
story (68). There is usually one character in short stories who is round, and the rest are flat. In
Kate Chopin’s “A Story of an Hour” the protagonist, Louise is the one who goes through a
change in one moment.
Since Louise has a heart condition, she finds out from her sister through veiled hints that
her husband had died. She grieves for her husband, Brently, for a period of time, then she
departs, alone, to her room. While Louise is alone, she begins to think of her predicament and
realizes she is happy to be a widower.
In the beginning, Louise is emotional about the death of her husband, Brently. When
Louise’s sister, Josephine, tells her that he is dead, “She did not hear the story as many women
have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with
sudden, wild abandonment…” (Chopin 205). This quote shows that Louise is a caring person,
and she loves her husband extremely. Since she grieves for Brently, which shows she has deep
feelings for him. However, Louise is emotional until she reflects on the death of her husband.
Louise departs to her room and reflects on the situation. She sets her feelings aside and
analyzes her circumstances. “She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching
to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will…” (Chopin 206). She realizes
that she does not have to share her life, anymore. Louise is sad about Brently’s death
but imagines her life without her husband. She goes back to being emotional since she is
exhilarated about her new lifestyle. “Free! Body and soul free!”(Chopin 206). Louise realizes
she does not have to wait on her husband for anything. She can think for herself and say what is
on her mind. She can go anywhere and whenever she chooses.
Chopin’s protagonist is verisimilitude in every respect of the word, Robert says “
Characters in fiction should be true to life” (64). In the time period that Chopin writes “A Story
of an Hour,” women are very emotional because of their dilemmas in life. Louise is emotional
about Brently’s death, in one instance she analyzes her predicament, and realizes she is free from
all her obligations as a wife, and she reverts to being emotional since she is exhilarated by what
her life will be like as a single woman. Louise is a believable and rounded character when she
changes emotionally in one moment in the story.

Posted by: Sonia P. at February 2, 2009 04:49 PM

John Winans
Eng 122 CA16
Dr. Hobbs
Mrs. Mallard
Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” introduces the character of Mrs. Mallard the wife of Mr Mallard. This particular wife like most wives loves her husband and obeys his every command but unlike some wives is openly honest of her inner feelings towards her husband when the possibility arises of his death, she rejoices inside. Joy turns to sorrow and back again.
Mrs. Mallard had very dear family and friends that knew of her love for her husband and also knew of his death, so it is by extreme care that these members would break the news to the woman whom is known to have heart trouble. She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. (Chopin, 205) If Mr. Mallard be present at the time and the message different would she have reacted opposite? She wept once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. (Chopin, 205). By this all could attest of her love for her man. Could this be honest surprise or the ability to act in front of others knowing that inside was the feeling of freedom, free of serving the master, free of obeying every command, free to do as she pleased.
She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength (Chopin, 205) Mallard is a woman who has a lifetime before her, with an appearance of a younger girl ready to take on the world, what cannot be seen is the failure of a heart that was the cause of being tied down and held back from her own life and given for her husband’s how awful to hear of the death of her life partner yet turning from despair to rejoicing.
The author shows that the good hearted Mrs. Mallard is not the flat character who is stereotypical of other house wives but a more rounded character that has the possibility of a dynamic future without a husband only the twist is the woman with the bad heart will soon be the one to meet a dreadful end not because of physical but emotional attributes. A surprise ending to a wife that was full of life taken away by her husband not only on her wedding night but on what was to be his dreadful night.

Posted by: John at February 2, 2009 10:21 PM

McLean 1
Jessica McLean
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 122-CA 17
January 29, 2009
The Transformation of Mrs. Mallard in The story of an Hour
Mrs. Mallard is Kate Chopin’s main character in The Story of an Hour. She is a quiet character in the story. She doesn’t speak very much, yet through the author’s description of her actions, we find out a lot about her personal life and her character traits. Throughout the story, Mrs. Mallard’s personality changes due to the recent news of the death of her husband. She is a lonely and unhappy woman who transforms into a free spirit who is overcome with joy.
At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mallard is a very delicate character. She has a serious heart condition and, “Wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms” (Chopin 79) when she learns of her husband’s death. We find out about our characters loyalty when we discover she stayed with her husband throughout their loveless marriage, which adds to her depression in the beginning of the story. After her husband’s death however, the transformation begins.
Mrs. Mallard is sitting in a room by herself when she begins to realize that she is now able to do what she pleases and “live for herself” (Chopin 80). Then, for the first time, she speaks, “Free! Body and soul free!” (Chopin 80). She is happy to be out of her failing marriage and her statement suggests that she has not been this excited in a long time. Her whole attitude towards life changes and she is finally eager to live out the rest of her life.
Mrs. Mallard is at first a flat character who transforms into a round character throughout the telling of the story. We learn a lot about her personality as the story progresses, and she changes as we continue reading which keeps the reader’s interest. Her husband’s death brings about an unexpected happiness, which Mrs. Mallard certainly deserves after the sadness she’s experienced over the past years.
McLean 2
Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” A Prentice Hall Pocket Reader: Literature. Ed. Mary McAleer Balkun. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2005. 79-81.

Posted by: Jessica McLean at February 2, 2009 10:59 PM

Ryan Baumgardner Dr B. Lee Hobbs
ENGL 122
February 10,2009 Baumgardner 1

The Fast Paced Story of an Hour
When Kate Chopin narrates this story she does a great job of keeping it completely in the third person with words like she and Mrs. Mallard. Chopin also characterizes the third person voice very well by using a distinct authorial voice. The narrator is very close to the physical action that is happening in the story, The Story of an Hour. You get this impression when your reading the story because the narrator follows every action that Mrs. Mallard makes. The narrator evens gets into her mind and allows the reader to know all her thoughts that are circulating.
Chopin uses the omniscient, third person point of view because the not only talks about physical action in the book, but also allows the readers to see the thoughts of the characters. An example is “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death.” (205). In The Story of an Hour Mrs. Mallard the main character gets news that her husband has died. While people are trying to calm her they don’t realized that she is actually happy because now she is finally free. Then at the end of the story her husband walks through the door and Mrs. Mallard his wife dies from a heart attack.
While I read this story I thought how great a job the narrator did using the omniscient method for third person point of view. It really helped develop the character
Baumgardner 2
of Mrs. Mallard if we never got to see her thoughts we would have never known she was weeping for relief and happiness. Baumgardner 3
Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Writing About Literature. Ed. Roberts V. Edgar. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 205-206.

Posted by: Ryan Baumgardner at February 10, 2009 09:25 AM

Michelle Youngblood
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 122 CA 16
February 12, 2009
The Story of an Hour: Plot and Structure
In The Story of an Hour, Mrs. Mallard learns that her husband has died in a railroad disaster. After she thinks Mr. Mallard is dead she is kind of sad but happy that she can now be free. Not too long after finding out the horrible news, Mrs. Mallard is told that he is alive. When she sees him coming through the door she has a heart attack and dies. The Story of an Hour is arranged to reveal how Mrs. Mallard really felt about being a wife and also surprise the reader. The complication of the story marks the beginning and the growth of the conflict. (Roberts 99) The conclusion of the conflict is the climax. (99) There are five formal Categories of Structure: Exposition, complication, crisis, climax, and resolution. (99-100) The story by Chopin uses these structures to build interest in the story to entertain her readers.
Mrs. Mallard and her characteristics, background, interests, limitations, potentials, and goals is the exposition of the story. Exposition is the laying out and the putting forth of story materials. (99) When Mrs. Mallard finds out about the death of her husband starts the complication in The Story of an Hour. Complication marks the beginning and the growth of the conflict. (99) “Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey.” (Chopin 81) That statement marks the crisis. The crisis is the point of uncertainty and tension or the turning point. The climax is the conclusion of the conflict. (99) “It was Brently Mallard who entered. He had been far from the scene of the accident.” (Chopin 81) When Mrs. Mallard dies of a heart attack is the resolution (releasing or untying) to the story. “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of joy that kills.” (Chopin 81)
A story that does not have a structure can sometimes seem a bit bland. Although The Story of an Hour is short, Chopin does a great job making the story interesting. Learning that Mrs. Mallard’s husband wasn’t dead kind of twisted the story. Most likely the readers thought she was going to finally be happy as a widowed woman. A story without conflict or plot is a story without interest.

Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. A Prentice Hall Pocket Reader. Ed. By Mary McAleer Balkun. Upper Saddle River: New Jersey, 2005.
Roberts, Edgar V. . Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2006. 68,285.

Posted by: Michelle Youngblood at February 13, 2009 08:56 AM

Chris Collier
ENG122 Academic Writing II
Dr. Hobbs
February 16, 2009
The Plot of Story of an Hour
Kate Chopin writes a tale of freedom from an oppressor and a story of having a weight lifted off one’s shoulders in her short story “The Story of an Hour”. Chopin wants the audience to see connections and understand the reactions that Mrs. Mallard experiences before her demise connected with her husband’s alleged death. Chopin uses the windows and other surroundings of her character as a plot device to signify freedom, because her character has no other life than her husband and the window represents a gateway to freedom.
Chopin begins her story by laying out the foundation for her characters: the relatives and friends of Mrs. Mallard are not to divulge the tragedy of her husband’s death by bluntly saying so. Her friends and relatives want her to not feel as bad when she hears of his death. Chopin uses the timeframe of an hour to build almost like a symphony a crescendo for the story that builds to a climax; the beginning of the story is spent in mourning and contemplation. Mrs. Mallard begins, however, to feel freedom from her authoritarian husband, and all the commitments that are tied with him. Chopin’s timeframe of an hour is a crucial plot element, because had the timeframe been a day, or a week, the effects and the tragedy that Mrs. Mallard goes through would have been lost.
The plot sequence following Mrs. Mallard finding out that her husband is dead sets up the fall. Mrs. Mallard was sad when she first heard, but as the idea she was free began to take hold and that her life of basically serf-like servitude had ended, she could not contain her happiness. All of this builds up to the point where she finds out her husband is still alive. Seeing her freedom leaving her as her husband stood in the doorway was too much for her heart to handle, both literally and metaphorically. The irony involved was the coroner thought she had died of a heart attack from joy, when in fact, her own heart condition caused her to die out of sadness.

Posted by: Chris Collier at February 17, 2009 01:45 AM

Katie Ganning
ENG 122 CA 17
Dr. Hobbs
February 12, 2009

The Joy That Truly Kills

In Kate Chopin’s, The Story of an Hour, the plot is immediately drawn by the conflict. When anyone hears the news of death, on someone who has made an impact on their life in some way, grief usually takes over their state of mind. In Mrs. Mallard’s personal dilemma, she soon finds out an interesting twist to her husbands “supposing” death.
According to Robert’s text, “Conflict is directly related to doubt, tension, and interest” (Roberts 94). As Mrs. Mallard runs into her room, she begins mourning about how would she be able go continue without her soul companion. “She wept at once, with sudden abandonment, wild abandonment, to her sister’s arm.” (Chopin 205). With the conflict of her husband’s death controlling her every thought and action, lead to Mrs. Mallard feeling tension and “physically exhausted that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.” (205).
The interesting turning point to the plot’s conflict is that normally one would not think of someone’s death as a positive one, especially a spouse. However, as Mrs. Mallard sat in her room, she stared outside the window and began to see the liveliness around her. She began to realize her dilemma could possibly be a positive one. She begins to feel excited that she was finally “free, free, free!” (205). Since she already didn’t fully love him, only sometimes and realizing she no longer had to worry about someone else, brought complete bliss to her life. As she left her room to return to her sister and pretend to keep mourning, the front door is open to see Mr. Mallard standing in the foyer. “He has been far from the scene of the accident”(206) and at that same moment Mrs. Mallard died due to heart disease.
The ironic twist to the result of the plot’s conflict is Mrs. Mallard’s doctors called her death of heart disease “the joy that kills” (206). In a way, her achievement was unconsciously and sadly met. Her dilemma brought tension, but only because she herself was ill. She stayed dedicated to her husband even though she was truly unhappy and although she died, she still reached her goal of just having to worry about herself and happiness, even if it was only for a short time.

Works Cited
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Edgar V. Roberts. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006. 205-206.
Roberts, Edgar V. “Writing About Literature.” Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006.

Posted by: Katie Ganning at February 17, 2009 08:32 AM

Dawn Serzanin
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 - CA17
24 February 2009
All That Can Happen In an Hour
Roberts states “Setting is the natural, manufactured, political, cultural, and temporal environment, including everything that characters know and own.” (Roberts 109) In Kate Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour” the setting is easily over looked but very important to the author’s main point. Chopin uses a simple as well as short setting which enforces her thoughts.
The setting in Chopin’s takes place in a 19th century home where a wife mourns the loss of her husband. “The Story of an Hour” takes place over the course of an hour which is a very important factor when analyzing this story and its setting. Chopin writes this story about the repression of women in the 19th century. While mourning the death of her husband Mrs. Mallard experiences the thoughts of sadness and despair along with a sense a freedom. “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!”(Chopin 81) The previous quote from Mrs. Mallard shows how she did not even realize until this very point that she felt like a prisoner. In this one specific hour she was able to talk to a doctor, her sister and a friend of her husband who all understood her actions as extremely distraught. Within this hour Mrs. Mallard dies of a heart attack, this again proves how in a single hour so much can happen. Chopin uses her setting of an hour to teach her readers that it is best not to take life for granted and to always live it to the fullest. The time period of the 19th century also helps to show that everyone not only men or women should do their best to enjoy what they have; this is because during this time period there were many expectations of both genders.
Chopin uses her characters and setting to relay her message to the audience. As Roberts states it is important for a setting to institute verisimilitude because it allows the reader to relate to the story; Chopin uses this concept very well in this short story.

Works Cited
1. Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Writing About Literature: 11th ed. Written by Edgar Roberts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,2006. (79-81)
2. Roberts, Edgar.”Writing About Literature: 11th ed.” Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,2006.

Posted by: Dawn at February 24, 2009 08:49 AM

Sasha-Ann Jarrett
Dr. Hobbs
English 122-CA 17-Academic Writing II
March 31, 2009
Do Females have a Purpose? - The Story of An Hour, A prentice Hall Pocket Reader.
Feminism is defined as the belief in the principle that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men according to the Oxford Mini Reference Dictionary and Thesaurus. Although in principle, women were indeed granted power and influence, in the nineteenth century, their quest for equality and rights were shattered, due to the statesmen’s acknowledgement that the importance of women was too often shallow rhetoric rather than an expression of willingness to grant them a substantial role in the public domain (Clinton 3). Today, there is a more general acceptance of equality between the sexes, but even the young people still show some adherence to traditional division of roles, and traditional gender ideology still plays a part in maintaining inequality. Investigations by political psychologists reveal some of the changes in public opinion, gender consciousness, and gender ideology that have taken place since the beginning of the women’s movement (The ANNALS 10).
Feminism is a strong theme in the Story of An Hour. My initial impression of the Story of An Hour was based on the persona’s actions and also on the occurrences in the story which suggest that the author was indeed a feminist. According to Clinton, “women were often considered shallow”, indicating that feminism was present in the period which Chopin wrote this short story. Conclusive research on Chopin to definitively say whether she was a feminist is non-existent, but I believe based on my own personal interpretation of the occurrences in the prose that she was a feminist at heart or in thought. The society in which Chopin lived was male dominated and supported by, “...a society where man makes the rule” (Seyersted 103), as the critics of the nineteenth century consistently criticized her work because of her inadequate use of “sweet and lovable characters” (Seyersted 9). The constant criticism of Chopin’s female characters, suggests that the critics were predominantly or almost definitely male and did not appreciate the author giving her female characters “roles in society” in her stories. Feminism is used as the critical approach to analyze the Story of an Hour as it is the essence of the story. The main character in this short story is Mrs. Mallard; a grown woman who is trapped within the “rules” of the male dominated society in which she lives and suddenly becomes aware of freedom and joy. The impression of being trapped is found towards the end of the story, where it is stated “clearly”, but yet at the same time ambiguously, “a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely” (Balkum 80), and “this possession of self-assertion” (Balkum 81).
Mrs. Mallard looks to a future without a husband; this thought actually brought her happiness. This is in direct contrast to what most women would want, the security of a husband, a husband to provide money, food, shelter, and other necessities in return the women aimed to satisfy their needs. In the short story, this is not the case, but rather the opposite, the wife wants to provide for her-self, and to make her own decisions. She looks forward to a life alone which is very strange indeed; if Mrs. Mallard was happy, Chopin would not have placed the ambiguous symbols of unhappiness, indicating feminism. It was clear that upon the death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard had escaped the claws of male dominance – perfected by him and had entered into a world of freedom and happiness.
The “self-assertion” is something that Mrs. Mallard has just come to realize. Her very own importance, which indicates that before her husband died her importance was not considered or valued. In fact the prevailing attitudes at the time would relegate her among other women as a domesticated icon with little or no intellectual capacity, as “the importance of women was too often shallow” (Clinton 3). The idea of feminism is ambiguous as Mrs. Mallard uttered the words “free, free, free” to herself, free of what, free of being held under her husband’s rules like a servant, “women…regarded as property or as a servant” (Seyersted 103). Mention of “self-assertion” in the “Story of An Hour” helps further to validate why Chopin is viewed as a feminist, as she treated the female condition with such seriousness, getting closer to an open, amoral treatment of women’s sexual self-assertion (Seyersted 111). Getting closer to an open meant that Chopin was creating self- assertiveness for the women who read her stories, but the critics of her century rebutted this privilege she was giving to women, as it was felt that she was bending the rules of her male dominated society.
Chopin was a feminist, but, subtle in her approach, evident in the way she shrouded her intentions to denounce male dominance She was brave yet terrified of what she was doing, another reason for her being portrayed as a feminist in her writing. Although as “The American Revolution created unprecedented opportunities for women as well as men” (Clinton 3), it was still felt that they were still often too shallow. In the nineteenth century, women were encouraged to cultivate “feminine” qualities and were expected to fulfill the dictates of the domestic roles, and if she failed to adhere to this strict ideal, she was considered to forfeit respectability (Clinton 148). Even though Chopin’s work was considered great by many, she was still regarded as shallow for attributing to women a level of importance in her novels.
According to Roberts, as an adjunct of the feminist movement in politics, the feminist critique of literature seeks to raise consciousness about the importance and unique nature of women, for this critical approach holds most of the masculine-patriarchal view in which the role of women is negated or at best minimized (Roberts 187). Chopin gave women importance in her novels because she knew that they could not receive it in the outside world, being a feminist on the inside but not on the outside. The feminist critique that she received from the males of literature did not make her less susceptible to what society wanted her to be, rather, made her push harder to make her idea against feminism know in society. Chopin continuously wrote about heroines, who are awakened to unusual gifts or impulses in themselves and to self-assertion (Seyersted 105), and in “The Story of An Hour”, gives the most startling picture of this “self-assertion”. However, Chopin does not state what the persona, Mrs. Mallard, would do with her life now that she could live her life for herself rather than for her husband.
The question of whether females have a purpose in society is a question that I am sure was asked in the nineteenth century and continues to be asked in the twenty-first century. In the nineteenth century women and men were treated as equals, but there was a limit as to how equal they were. This was evident in the stereotypical roles that the nineteenth century put on women, that they should be the provider and be “sweet and lovable” and subject to man’s authority. If “The Story of An Hour” was written in the present day society it would be accepted. Women are still treated just as how Mrs. Mallard is treated in her society. They continue to abide by their husbands laws, they are still considered shallow, and are comfortable to remain submissive to their men folk.
Women are gradually progressing in society and if we look closely, they are setting the way for young girls and aiding their transformation into becoming adults, some being role models. The improvement in the role and status of women in society over the nineteenth century is tremendous - many of the barriers have been broken down and the glass ceilings shattered women are free to vote, to hold top positions in organizations, to receive an education and to socialize more. Unfortunately, this freedom of women in the twenty-first century is not dominant everywhere in the world; many are still restricted with very little freedom as their male counterparts continue to dominate their lives using the legacy of the past centuries as justification for their dastardly acts. This situation is more dominant in some countries than others and as part of their culture many Middle Eastern countries still restricts their women, as seen and heard on the news.
Chopin was an American writer whose career skyrocketed with each piece of literature she wrote and was a renowned feminist of her time. Kate Chopin tried her best to make the importance of women known throughout her literature, and I respect and praise her for that, because most women having to live in a male dominated society would not be bold enough to express theirseleves in this manner. I believe Chopin’s “The Story of An Hour” was an excellent way of the portrayal of feminism especially for the period in which she wrote this short story. She did not make it evident but kept it subtle for the reader to figure it out, which the critics of the nineteenth century did. She used certain phrases and words to make it clear, but the story was “normal” in a sense, covering up what critics did not want to be portrayed in the society that Chopin lived in.
When reading “The Story of An Hour”, the normality is that the main character’s husband has died and she is mourning and overdoses and kills her-self, but within the story such words as “free” creates the idea of “slavery”. Creating this idea allows the author to bring out the theme of feminism, which was vividly clear in the short story, and answers the question – do females have a purpose? The answer to this is yes, females do have a purpose, but this purpose is dependent on many things, such as the century, the household, the country in which they live. The purpose of females in the nineteenth century was the stereotypical one, that of women being domesticated, restricted and disadvantaged. While the stereotypical view still exist, women are now breaking that tradition and are now fulfilling their goals and dreams, and this is what Chopin is aiming for by “freeing” her female persona’s in her stories, in the nineteenth century, of their societal importance.

Works Cited
Boles, Janet K. “American Feminism: New Issues for a Mature Movement.”The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 515 May 1991. The fifth volume of The Annals devoted to showing the status of women climbing within the 19th century, during the new feminist movement. This will allow for more insight and a better understanding of the diverse and increasingly professionalized American feminist movement.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour”. A Prentice Hall Pocket Reader. Ed. Mary McAleer Balkum. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2005 (pages 79-81). This is a book comprised of classic and contemporary short stories and plays, from which The Story of an Hour was selected for a critical analysis to be done.
Clinton, Catherine. The Other Civil War American Women in the Nineteenth Century. Hill and Wang, 19 Union Square West, New York 1003. Evidence of the growing maturity and sophistication of the field of women’s history and identifies the struggles of women in the nineteenth century. This book was chosen as it illustrates clearly how male dominance prevailed within family life and relationships.
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing about Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2005. A literary guide to help produce essays on literary texts of any genre, and contains different critical approaches to literature. It contains information on how to criticize and simplify an essay, which will assist with the approach used for the research paper.
Seyersted, Per. Kate Chopin A Critical Biography. (1990) printing. A detailed biography on Chopin’s life giving ball by ball commentary of what her life was actually like, including crescendos and dimuendos. This summary of Chopin’s life explains and highlights several situations that will help in putting together the details on whether she was a feminist, her style of writing, and the type of novels she wrote.

Posted by: Sasha-ann Jarrett at April 28, 2009 08:13 AM

story of an hour purveyed a time delinquency since it was written at the times whereas the women doesn't have the right.

it solely implicates something to be understood by us-- readers. Perhaps a big complication comes up when a person has a disease yet needs to be aware.

we can make more of the criticism when we read the story.

Posted by: Anarica at September 20, 2009 02:32 AM

My Blog

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some rights reserved. 2006.