The story of an hour is a narrative whose author is an American known as Kate Chopin and was published on December 6 1894, by Vogue. The original publishing of this story was on April 19 1894, as The Dream of an Hour. The story revolves around the reaction of the main character Louise Mallard after receiving the information that her husband was dead. The news of Brently Mallard’s passing away was not distressful to his wife but rather the beginning of her freedom and the realization of a long-awaited moment of self-determination.
Richard and Josephine are afraid at the time of breaking the news to Louise because of her weak heart. However, when she finally gets the news, she is not troubled much. Although Louise does not think about the freedom that will come from her husband’s absence, this knowledge finally gets to her while looking through the open window in her bedroom. Through the open window, she sees Open Square and trees all excited with the coming of the “new spring life”. She is feeling a tasty “breath of rain in the air and the twittering of the sparrows” (Chopin). All these are symbolizing the freedom that Louise is about to achieve.
Louise continues staring at the blue patches of the sky, but the author says the glance was not a reflection but an indication of intelligent thought. Because of this intelligent thinking going through her minds, Louise did not understand the meaning of these veiled hints and what was coming to her. At first, she strived so hard to resist it, but when she finally could no longer beat it back, the knowledge of freedom reached her mind. The death of Brently Mallard made his wife realize that she could now fulfil her desire for self-determination, a wish that she could have never achieved if she had continued living with Mr Mallard. After realizing that her freedom is approaching, she says the word “free” again and again, enjoying it and replacing the fear that was initially in her face with excitement and acceptance.
The author shows the audience that Louise Mallard’s desire for self-determination is not about having her husband out of her life, but it is for her to be able to take control of her life, and she is eager to enjoy “years to come that would belong to her” (Chopin). Although the author never describes any wrongdoing that Mr Mallard could have done to her wife, Louise seems to be tired of the restrictions she encounters in her marriage. The facts that she can see opportunity in her husband’s demise means she will not be affected or even miss him, and in fact, she is no longer a prisoner anymore living for someone else. “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a will upon a fellow creature” (Chopin).
It is evident that the commitments of marriages kept the couple together and not love, as we can see Louise confessing that she did not often love Brently. Now that he is gone and gone forever, she is going to enjoy freedom for her body and soul. Towards the end of the story, Chopin describes how the feelings of triumph have engulfed Louise, and she carries herself like a goddess of victory.
At the end of the story, Mr Mallard emerges, and it turns out to be that the news of his death was wrong, and he was not even at the scene of the accident. Ironically, Louise Mallard, after learning that her husband is not dead, is shocked and dies of a heart attack that the doctor believes is due to the joy that kills. This claim is not valid because the coming back of her husband would mean she will lose her newfound freedom, which led to the loss of the joy she had just begun to enjoy leading to death.
Chopin, K. The Story of an Hour. Vogue, 1894.
Accessed June 16, 2018.