The Story of an Hour is an acclaimed literary work by Kate Chopin. Kate is well known for writing story emphasized on freedom or independence of women during the 1890s. Kate’s works were written before any feminist movement was begun. During that time women were considered as property of their husband. This fact impacted author on great way hence she emphasized on liberalization of women in her stories. Throughout the story of an hour, Kate utilizes various literary techniques to display forbidden joy of women’s freedom in male oriented society.
Kate’s short story revolves around a woman Louise Mallard who is portrayed as suffering from heart problem. The news of her husband’s death was given to mallard with a great precaution. She was shocked and portrayed as abnormal when she heard the news of her husband’s death. She started weeping and staring towards the sky, Louis was calm. “When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow” (Anonym 2).
Kate has portrayed the feelings of Louis in an impressive manner. Louis feels an amazing sensation of joy and sorrow. She looks through open window and enjoys the scenery. She enjoys aroma of rain and also hears twittering of sparrows. Louis enjoys sounds of life and sees her in the spanking atmosphere. She, instead of mourning about death of her husband, imagines that all these changes are happening for her. Though she tries to overcome her new thoughts but also finds herself unable to like what she used to feel in her old circumstances and how much she suffered.
She thought to mourn but she also sensed a kind of freedom and at the same time also started imagining how she would spend her free life in coming time. Though she used to love her husband but simultaneously she also loved her freedom. Louis Mallard imagined a life for her where she would live free without any interference from anyone. She was sad yet happy and sorrowful but joyous for different reasons that arose out of same incident. Her situation has been portrayed in a realistic manner by the author.
This short story has several themes and freedom is one of them. Freedom is in fact the central theme of ‘The story of an Hour’. Lois is portrayed as one who faces a number of restrictions like restriction of marriage, her traditions, liabilities, her thoughts, her husband and also the society. Louis belonged to upper class and enjoyed a huge amount of freedom but she was always in quest of more freedom and when she heard that her husband is died her quest of freedom was satisfied.
Louis feels a mental as well emotional freedom after hearing about her husband’s death. All the incidents that she encountered in past with her husband were wandering in her mind. She suddenly realized how oppressed she was with her husband. It further indicates that she was just adjusting herself in a repressive marriage and was not happy in her life. This also indicates towards a contradiction because at no point of time, it is indicated that there was absence of love between husband and wife (Jamil).
Throughout the story, Kate Chopin seems suggesting that every marriage is repressive however kind it is. Louis is the protagonist of this story and does not hesitate from admitting that her husband was caring, loving and kind. Louis feels loved by her husband but even then when she gets to know that her husband is no more, she, instead of mourning immediately starts imagining about her future. Author uses her writing skill to describe her own thinking and ideas about the freedom.
Kate suggests that when Louis reacted to her husband’s death, there was nothing artificial. Louis reacted in a practical manner because she felt it that way. She was somewhere feeling all these things but never shared the same with her husband or with anybody else. She does not express or cites any particular instance that suggests any kind of brutality her husband exercised upon her. Louis is not a victim of domestic violence but also she has not been portrayed as a happily married woman.
Freedom is the central theme that drives the story and makes readers aware about author’s thoughts. The idea has been presented before the readers in an artistic way that makes readers aware about the importance of freedom for women and what they think about it. It is not necessary that a woman is happy in a marriage just because her husband loves her. It has been portrayed that woman need certain degree of freedom ad if the same is not given to her, it may be convert into a painful suffering. Author indicates about the desires and sense of freedom that woman loves.
Kate has also been criticized for creating such ideas of unnecessary sufferings of a woman of upper class. She herself aggress that Louis has not been tortured ever by her husband and enjoyed a good life. Her husband never beat her and always loved her then why create unnecessary hue and cry. Kate is a feminist who does not tolerate any kind of love and affection between men and women. She loves to see women in a dominated situation only. She fails to understand that affection and love are essential components of a happy marriage and a key of good relation between men and women.
Critics say that Kate has tried to create a situation where men are dominated by women. She likes and imagines a society where women are in no bound or liable for anything. She just imagines women as dominated and bold. She forgets that women and men are like two wheels of a cart and both needs to cooperate to each other in order to make a happy family and to lead a good life. Kate sounds a bit skeptical about these affairs and creates unnecessary complication in her story. Kate appears portraying her own thoughts through Louis and presents it before readers in a dramatic way.
After having observed, succinct analysis of the above mentioned subject, it can be concluded that Kate has portrayed the condition of woman in a very realistic manner. She has presented a story that gives us a glimpse of woman thoughts and about her feelings. Kate has portrayed the story of an upper class woman who used to enjoy ample freedom but still was looking for the same and reacted in a strange manner when her husband was died. The story is a very realistic portrayal of condition of women in contemporary society that indicates about their sufferings and thinking.
Anonym. The Story of an Hour: Kate Chopin's Voice Against Patriarchy. Norderstedt Germany: GRIN Verlag, 2004.
Jamil, Selina S. "Emotions in ‘The Story of an Hour'." Explicator (2009): 215-220.