In the short story, “The Story of an Hour,” American writer Kate Chopin grants the complex character of Mrs. Louis Mallard. Mallard is a depressed woman confined in her miserable relationship. The story of an hour is expressed in a moment, an hour of Mallard’s life. She is incapable of disengaging herself from her marriage. Thus, she tolerates it instead. The news of a supposed death of her husband arises as an immense break to her for a short moment, and she experiences the delights of enlightened life from her suppressed marriage with Mr. Mallard. Chopin illustrates how Louise came to comprehend the breakdowns of her life and how she visualizes her future before everything turns catastrophic at the end of the story.
Mrs. Mallard was not truthful towards her sister Josephine and her husband’s friend Richard, who has given her a great deal of concern. This is distinctive because both Josephine and Richard take a lot of caution into breaking the news to Mallard about her husband’s death. They presume that she has an abundance of love towards Mr. Mallard and learning of his death would amplify her heart condition and lead to her death. However, they didn’t know that Mrs. Mallard did not love him profoundly and in fact optimistically took the news. This can be seen when she bursts into her room, and her attention changes significantly from that of her husband’s death to nature. In the text, it states, “she would have no one follow her” could symbolize the start of her acceptance that “she would live for herself.” She wanted to be on her own and allow her feelings to react freely to the news of her the death of her husband. While her initial reaction to the news is one of mourning, Louise is increasingly aware of her freedom. Mallard was undergoing a powerful sense of freedom, “Free! Body and soul free!.” Her confined happiness broke through when her husband died. Therefore, showing the symbol of her new life and the opportunities anticipating her. Her eyes focus on the patches of blue sky representing the ending of her storm, her smell and ears become attentive to certain places and items in nature. All representing in a very representational language of her distinct moment of taking in pleasures of freedom and experience of enlightened life. Her struggles took the form of words: “free, free, free!” (Chopin 288). Thus, displaying that she was facing life after the death of her husband.
Once she realizes her husband is alive, Mallard’s past love and desire for life are overturned. This news strikes with such power that it takes her life. Thus, it makes it probable that her feeble heart just could not tolerate what undeniably was for her, the most disastrous news. “She says a prayer that her life might belong to enjoy all the seasons in her life.” (Chopin 289). After having suffered a brief moment of what it was like to be free from a disturbed life, Mallard could not think about breathing another moment of the contained life that she has had with her husband.
However, there is a component of hardship to her death; one could also comprehend her death as an end to her subdued life. Everything Mallard did not accomplish in her life; she did in her death. She is now unrestricted and no more women to the oppressive will of her husband. On the contrary, she decides on a way out that was easy. She did not put up a fight to the domination directed towards her. “Whose lines bespoke repression, even a certain strength” (Chopin 288). Her bravery, if she had any, was restricted to her being able to vision herself in a different future, experience the exciting second of being free. As an alternative to mourning in the company of Josephine and Richard, she chose to be by herself and savour her consciousness of being free.
For the most part, Mrs. Mallard seems to have surrendered to the play by play role of a wife that was well-defined by the culture and settlements of her time. She could not gather enough nerve to fight back the status quo; the dominating role of her husband; or the culture rules that authorized certain norms of behaviour or male characters for husband and wife. She has a victim approach waiting for a chance to grant itself rather than carrying about an alteration so she could experience the pleasures of independence. This demonstrates that she understood this was her purpose in life and chose to live through it. She is the flawless supporting example of stereotypical roles of women or wives who have a victim outlook and accept the situations as they are. It is only because some women dared to take a stand against such oppressive culture and oppressive people that women in modern times find more choices to live a life of liberty and freedom.
If she had acted in bravery, being more self-confident in inputting her true emotions with her sister or reaching out to other sources of help to address her contained relationship, she would not have to feel aggrieved being with her husband. “It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 289). Her purpose for life would not have to mean death to her husband. In conclusion, her lack of self-assertion, strength, and power to approach her subdued life made her look at life and death in an unconventional prospect. When in reality there is no obligation to die to encounter freedom while she could have experienced a full life with her husband by her side.
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