Submit a Post Submit a Post


Revisiting Kate Choppin's "The Story of an Hour"

Avatar Learner
Alokparna Chatterjee
Member since October 16, 2016
  • 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.

The narrator 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 blasphemy.

We might read the story and sympathize with the poor lady, but do we really think about the innumerable Louises who yearn for freedom? Do we ever think about the likes and dislikes of a woman who is tied to the regressive norms? Needless to say, this story voices the unheard sighs and frustrations of women.




comments powered by Disqus