The Story of An Hour

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The Story of an Hour is a short fiction by southern writer Kate Chopin and was originally published in Vogue magazine [1984]. This widely read work of Chopin didn’t receive recognition until its rediscovery during the height of the feminist movement in the 1960’s. This work reflects and represents Chopin’s view on women’s roles which shocked most of her reading audience. The story is about a married southern woman named Louise Mallard who receives news of her husband’s [Brently Mallard] death.

Being of frail condition, those about her [sister Josephine and friend Richards] took great care in revealing to her the disastrous news. In grief, Louise isolates herself to deal with her feelings in private. Unexpectedly she realizes something quite surprising in her isolation: “a monstrous joy…held her” (Chopin, 1984). It was during this moment of epiphany she realizes an overwhelming desire for freedom. Empowered, Louise ends her brief isolation and decides to to welcome her future filled with “days that would be her own” (Chopin, 1984).

However, in a sudden twist of faith, her erroneously reported deceased husband walks into the house to the surprise of everyone. As a result, Louise ended up supposedly dying “of heart disease–of the joy that kills” (Chopin, 1984). However, it can be simply put she died of a heart attack – not due to overwhelming joy but grief – at the sight of her living husband. To explain, Chopin uses several literary tools in telling Louise Mallard’s tragic story. She used symbolisms to portray the heroine’s desire for freedom.

The open window symbolizes the new life opening up before her. The Springtime view represents revitalization and rebirth of her personality. In fact, “she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window” (Chopin, 1984). However, the line “Free! Body and soul Free! ” can be taken as a foreshadowing of Louise’s impending doom at the sight of her living husband. It can be assumed that Louise, with her strongly renewed desire for freedom, would rather die than have it taken away from her.

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