The short story entitled “Story Of An Hour” written by Kate Chopin is a powerful story about a woman, Mrs. Mallard who is given the horrible news that her husband has just passed away in a train wreck. Devastated by her husband’s sudden death she excuses herself and immediately rushes to her bedroom where we see a different side of Mrs. Mallard’s attitude. She has taken on a different angle of life now, she is upset about her husband’s sudden death, however; she has something to be happy about it. Now that her husband has passed away is Mrs. Mallard happy because she is now her own person? Or is Mrs. Mallard truly upset that her husband has passed?
“Story Of An Hour” was written in 1894, which was in a time period where women did not really have much power or say in anything that went on. Women were really the ones that stayed home and took care of the family and tended to the house, while the husbands went out and worked. Women really stayed out of the lime light and their opinions were never heard or considered. Even though women had desires and feelings, those feelings were never heard of. Women did not dare speak out about their feelings or their rights, it was just not heard of in that time period. Women really lived a life of silence then because they had no voice and they dared not once speak out.
Kate Chopin lived in this type of time period where women really did not have any rights. Chopin wrote stories where the characters were women who were dealt with these types of issues head on. Chopin was well known for writing short stories that centered around women who are faced with these types of society blocks. However in her stories the women usually take on different side. The women in her stories normally choose their own path rather then what is excepted of them in the eyes of the society. In the end it is the women who gets what they truly want our of life.
One major theme in Kate Chopin’s story is freedom. In the beginning of “Story of an Hour” the scene opens up and we are introduced to Mrs. Mallard who has been told that her husband has dead in a horrible train wreck. Mrs. Mallard reacts to this news like any other wife would. Yes, she is upset so she excuses herself and rushes off to her bedroom to be away from everyone who has come to see her. While in her room we as the reader see a completely different side of Mrs. Mallard. She in some sense is happy; yes she is upset that her husband has dead however she now has this new found freedom that she did not have before.
When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under the breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body. (Chopin 1)
Here for the first time you see Mrs. Mallard really coming out of her shell, once she is behind closed doors she can truly express what she is really feeling. Mrs. Mallard still in some sense knows her place; she knows that she dared not express these types of feelings in front of her family and friends. In some sense she knows her place in society and even though her husband has dead she is still supposed to keep that stature of a women in that time period.
Mrs. Mallard is now been reborn. She is now free, free from the shadow of her husband. Mrs. Mallard is up in her room, she is standing in front of her window and everything around her is in full bloom, spring has arrived. Winter has now died and spring has now been born. In some sense the same applies for Mrs. Mallard the winter being her husband has now died and spring being her new found freedom has been born.
She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves. (Chopin 1)
The smell of rain is in the air, and that can also represent a form of a rebirth. When I think of rain and rebirth I think of a newborn child being christened. When a child is being christened they are being born, they are being cleansed. The same applies here for Mrs. Mallard she in some sense is being cleansed, she is now free, free to live her life the way that she pleases without having to answer to anyone not even her husband.
Mrs. Mallard knows that she now can truly live for herself and no one else. She knows that she can be her own person; she does not have to answer to her husband anymore.
There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. 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. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination. (Chopin 1)
Mrs. Mallard knows now that she only has to live with herself. She does not have to make anyone happy but herself. She does not have to answer to anyone but herself. She now is living her life the way she wants she is not going to be chained to her husband.
Mrs. Mallard finally compasses herself and comes out of her bedroom to make an appearance downstairs again. As she walks down the stairs Mrs. Mallard gets the surprise of her life…
Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards’ quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife. (Chopin 1)
In that moment Mrs. Mallard collapses to the floor and dies of what the doctors later say was of a heart disease or was it a broken heart knowing that her freedom had now been taken away from her in a matter of an hour.