The Story of an Hour
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“The Story of an Hour” revolves around Louise Mallard, who receives the news of her husband’s death with conflicting emotions. The news is broken by her sister Josephine. At first, Louis acts as a normal woman, giving way to the feelings of grief and despair. Then, as her weeping and sobbing ceases, she catches herself on the thought that she fears and welcomes at the same time. Louise is free from male domination, as well as constraints and rules that marriage imposed on her. “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin, 2). She embraces her new role in society too quickly and too willingly. Within one hour she undergoes a transition from a sorrow-stricken widow to a self-confident and self-sustaining female. When life puts the finishing touches and Brently Mallard shows up alive and intact, Louise’s dreams shatter like a glass ball and she dies of the loss of joy or, as the doctor ironically puts it, “joy that kills” (Chopin, 3). The heart condition is used by Chopin as a metaphor for her emotional state rather than a medical diagnosis.
Throughout the whole course of the narration Chopin underscores that Louise has problems with her heart. Probably, heart in this story stands for emotionality that is always attributed to women. Indeed, Louise sifts much of the information through her heart. Chopin also scatters symbols throughout the story. She contrasts the open window with the closed door, the former standing for bright future and the latter representing the gloomy past. The prospect of the future is too tempting, as there will be no one dominating her will and limiting her freedom. “There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” (Chopin, 3). Chopin gives a few hints, indicating that Louise is unhappy in marriage and she is obviously dissatisfied with being treated as inferior. She is trapped into marriage with a man whom she does not love. However, she complies with the conventions and obligations, playing the part of a good wife like a typical nineteenth century woman. Chopin’s story brings about the topical issues that are still discussed by women worldwide. Feminists would probably recognize in this story some powerful messages, signaling the beginning of irreversible changes in the struggle for women’s rights. “The Story of an Hour” celebrates one woman’s excitement about freedom and how she finally gets her desired freedom in death.