The short story, “The Story of an Hour”, was written by the author Kate Chopin, in the last part of the 19th century. She often wrote stories about women in a way that was considered inappropriate in relation to this century’s strict views upon marriage, sexual liberation and so on. In “The Story of an Hour” the subject can be women’s position in marriage in the late 1800’s, and Kate Chopin may in some way represent herself through the main character. Her views upon marriage as an institution and the unfair and oppressive position women dealt with then might be the theme.
The setting of “The Story of an Hour” is a middle class in the USA in the late 1800s, and revolves around the main character Louise Mallard, so her room is mostly where the story is set. The story is told in the third person, but we only get to know the thoughts and feelings of Mrs. Mallard, so the story is seen purely from her point of view. She is a young, married woman who suffers from heart decease. You easily sympathize with her because it seems as if that is what the writer wants you to do. It is also simple to side with Louise Mallard because she is the person you come close to, and in that way justify her actions. When she is in her room, she is characterized as an intelligent, strong, but also a repressed woman. We get hints of her being trapped in an unhappy marriage, which was usual at that time. Her sister Josephine and her husband’s friend Richards are only described through how they act around Mrs. Mallard. They treat her as if she could break at any given moment. Mr. Mallard doesn’t appear until the end, and we only get to know that he looks a little travel-stained.
“The Story of an Hour” starts in medias res, with what the story spins around; when Mrs. Mallard is informed about her husband’s death. Immediately after hearing the shocking news, Louise starts crying, and storms to her room. It seems as if she is devastated, but when she sits down in the room she becomes calm. She looks out of the window and see a new spring life outside. The beautiful images represent her feeling of new life; Louise finally feels free. Josephine becomes worried and wants her to come out of the room. When Mrs. Mallard comes out and descents down the stairs, she sees Brently Mallard (her husband) come walking in. The fact that he returns is clearly the turn in the plot. Louise dies from the shock. The doctors came to say that she died because she was so glad for her husbands return. But us, readers, know better; she suddenly lost her newfound freedom and hope, and then also lost her life.
I think Kate Chopin choose the title, “The Story of an Hour”, because the short story only tells of this particular hour of Mrs. Mallard’s life, the only hour of her life in freedom. Maybe she wanted us to mull over what is best; an hour of happiness or a lifetime of repressiveness and sadness?