Revisiting Kate Choppin's "The Story of an Hour"
- 7 Posts
- Age 23
In the short story, "The Story of an Hour", Kate Chopin
presents the manner in which societal forces subjugates and kills the
intimate desires of a woman. Here, the word intimate does not refer to
sexual desires. Chopin portrays the intrinsic desire and love for
freedom. The protagonist nurtures an intimate thought of freeing herself
from the clutches of marriage. On hearing about the death of her
husband, Louise Mallard feels a kind of sheer joy which is intrinsically
related to her ideas of freedom. But, this happiness is short-lived. As
fate would have it, Brently Mallard arrives to destroy this new found
happiness of Louise. The concluding section of the story presents the
unnatural death of Louise. The doctor proclaims,
"she had died of heart
disease—of joy that kills."
Really? Is it so? Did she die due to the immense joy at seeing her husband or did she die due to the sudden withdrawal of the intense joy of freedom?
Chopin had to
end the story following the conventional path. Had the author shown
Louise celebrating and leading life on her own terms, this story would
not have been approved by society.
also points towards the fact that Louise's sister Josephine could never
really accept the actuality of her sister's feelings. Why? The answer
points towards the idea that Josephine stands as the mouthpiece of the
patriarchal society which has no room for dissent. Women (especially
married women) are bound to follow the diktats of the institution of
marriage. It is quite evident that Louise could hardly verbalize her
thoughts or dislikes. According to Josephine (read society),
experiencing a sense of freedom after the husband's death is nothing but