15 June 2015
The Story of an Hour
In the late nineteenth century, being a woman meant limited rights such as freedom of speech and the right to an education. During this era, women were oppressed both physically and mentally. The decision about clothing, education, and marriage was made by a male. From birth to marriage, male oppression was passed from the woman’s father to the woman’s husband. In "The Story of an Hour," Kate Chopin illustrates male oppression in marriage through Mrs. Mallard’s mourning, sudden excitement then traumatic death.
Chopin introduces Mrs. Mallard who is described as “young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression” (550). Being young and dealing with stress and repression put wrinkles on Mrs. Mallard. Readers also learn that Mrs. Mallard is “inflicted with heart trouble” (549). During this time period, heart troubles could be identified with depression. Her sister learning of the death from the newspaper, broke the news of her husband’s departing as gently as possible. Mrs. Mallard’s mourning was different than most woman widowed. “She did not hear the story as many woman have heard the same, with paralyzed ability to accept the significance” (549). Instead of not being able to believe the news of her newly departed husband, Mrs. Mallard suddenly sobs in her sisters arms.
When Mrs. Mallard retreats to her room to mourn alone, she sits in a comfortable arm chair and looks out her window in deep thought. She sat and realized “there was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully” (550). She was unsure of her emotion but she felt it entering her body. She rises from her chair and starts chanting “free, free, free!” under her breath. She tries fighting her emotion, but the overwhelming rush of excitement over powers her. “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death,” but she looks past that upcoming moment and spread her arms out to the years to come of complete freedom (550). She realizes “there will be no one to live for her 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” (550). It is apparent that she has been living in an oppressed marriage and ecstatic with the thought of living a free life. During her transition, readers are reintroduced to Mrs. Mallard as Louise. This is significant because now she can be her own, free self rather than being Brently Mallard’s wife.
Louise’s thoughts were running wild with all of the spring…