We chose The Story of an Hour because it was written in a time period where women were supplementary to men in opportunities as well as in status since/as men dominated women’s lives since/because they had no rights. Within the story Chopin shows that some married women felt secretly unhappy and as a property owned by their husbands, in the 1800s. This gets conspicuous when Mrs. Mallard silently whispers “free, free, free!” because what matters is that the death of her husband set her free as an independent woman.
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, first published in 1895, is about a female protagonist who finally feels free after finding out about her husband’s death. The main character Mrs. Mallard suffers from heart problems thus everyone treats her carefully. Her Sister Josephine and a family friend, called Richard, discover that Mr. Mallard got killed in an accident and after that they try to break the news gently to his wife. To process her husband’s death, with a series of emotions, she locks herself into her own room and contemplates the view out of her window. Although she loved him, a sense of relief and freedom comes over her. While Josephine keeps trying to check on her, she finally comes out of her room and subsequently they decide to go downstairs. At the same time Mr. Mallard, her husband, enters the house whereat Mrs. Mallard dies caused by a shock because he is still alive.
The basic story takes place within a house, which is likely the Mallards’ household. Since there are stairs inside, it contains more than one floor and internal doors are equipped with locks. Mrs. Mallard has her own room in which a comfortable roomy armchair is placed, facing the open window.
The entire story takes place within an hour. Therefore there is a limited amount of time for characters to go anywhere or do anything. An open square and the trees in front of her house give a lively effect to the current spring time. The blue sky is partly hidden of clouds and the air filled with a breath of rain.
The story is set in the late 19th century, the victorian era, where an extreme social inequality existed. The women’s role was limited to give birth to children and being the housewife. Furthermore, women had no legal say and were not allowed to vote. In case of a divorce the property of the woman was taken by her husband.
The Story of an Hour deals mainly with Mrs. Mallard’s condition while she is processing her husband’s death. The characters, who are surrounding her, treat her carefully because of her medical condition.
After being told about the recent accident, she reacts with obvious grief, leaves her sister alone to lock herself into her own room and to process her husband’s death. Her physically exhaustion and motionless body lead to a sensation of tension and fear. After she tries to strive the unknown feeling of freedom back, she is getting excited, which gets apparent in her increasing pulse beat and relaxation of every part of her body.
The more time she spends alone, the stronger becomes her sensation of freedom and independence. For the first time a feeling of relief, that she can finally live for herself, overcomes her. While Louise is observing the outside of the house, she reaches energy through “drinking an elixir of life through that open window” (Chopin, 1895). Mrs. Mallard is uncertain, if she ever loved Mr. Mallard.
Full of delight she finally steps out of her room and the minute Mr. Mallard enters the house, an enormous shock overcomes her. By entering the front door he takes her freedom away and she dies caused by the shock. Due to her death she wins her freedom back. (Chopin, 1895)