Literature

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

The works are imbued with the notions of freedom and emancipation for women that were sweeping through the country and she was renowned for her individuality and strength, quite rare in upper-middle-class women of her time. Her stories revolve around the theme of marriage and family which Chopin treats in the most unconventional way. Her short stories are mandatory reading for students studying American Feminist literature. Chopin’s feminist writings were frowned upon in the period when they were written because they were considered to be the psychological, physical, social and sexual emancipation (Toth, 242) of her works that appealed to the readers of the 1950s, who identified with a woman’s need for freedom.Kate Chopin’s story vividly describes the different human emotions that occur according to the incidents that take place at Louise’s home and the rapid changes that occur within that one hour when Mrs Mallard (Louise) hears the news of her husband’s death. Louise Mallard is portrayed as a character who is weak in both body and mind. She is afflicted with heart problems even though she is young. When the family receives the sad news of her husband’s death in a road accident, her sister Josephine takes a lot of trouble in trying to break the news very gently to her for fear of triggering her sister’s heart problems and worsening an already bad situation.On hearing the news Louise Mallard cries bitterly in the arms of her sister for some time and when all grief is spent, she retires to her room where she locks herself away to continue her mourning for her beloved husband. However, as she sits in her chair with the head resting back in front of her window, a great change takes place within her and she strongly feels a sense of freedom of both body and soul. The sense of exhilaration is so intense that she hears herself whisper the words- ‘Free body and soul free…’ and she concludes that this freedom is a benefit that deathhas brought her.

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