I was attracted to Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” even before I read it. The title was enchanting on some deep level. The story of an hour is a unique turn of phrase, just because we do not usually think of units of temporal measurement as having a unique story to tell. The story explores love from different angles.
After reading it, it is clear that the story is not actually about an hour, but about what happens in that hour. Chopin writes with a beautiful prose. It is simple, but powerful. Her use of simile has a poetic beauty to it. I particularly liked, “as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.” (Chopin, 1).
The theme is not a particularly easy one. It starts with a woman’s husband dying and then it leads to her acceptance of her husband’s death, then to a feeling of freedom, being unburdened by the “will” of her husband. Then it turns out that her husband has not died, and she dies of a heart attack at having her new dreams of freedom without him shattered.
The essay brings to mind issues of love, freedom, and freedom’s loss at love. Love can set us free, but it can also chain us down. Her husband had treated her kindly in life. Chopin writes that, “the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead” (Chopin, 2).
This story has much to do with the time period when it was written. In 1894 even women married to a kind husband were trapped by him, as the laws governing marriage made a woman essentially a man’s property and forced a woman to obey.
This makes me think about love, about, as cliché as it sounds, the difference between “true love” and forced love. I do not believe that love can exist without the freedom of choice both to enter into a relationship, or a marriage and the freedom to leave.
As the saying goes, if you love something let it go. During the time period that Chopin wrote “The Story of an Hour” love may have existed, but not to it’s highest degree because love was also saddled with obligations on the part of the woman that did not exist for the man.
Love must be a free choice. It’s why cultures where women are forced to marry men I believe will end up having social problems down the line. We demand or influence by shear force someone to love us, in the very same way that we cannot be obligated to love another. Love originates from an ordering of situations beyond our control.
When I finished the story, I could not help but to pity the husband since, he not only just lost his wife , he go through life never knowing the cause of her demise was because of heart failure due to her grief at finding that her husband walking through the front door. This shows that their relationship may have been based on kindness and loving. But it was not base don openness, for the husband likely never knew how much his wife felt trapped by the marriage between them.
Chopin, Kate. ""The Story of an Hour"."Virginia Commonwealth University. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2013. <http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/>.