Setting in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

Introduction

“The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin portrays the inner turbulence of a lady known as Mrs. Mallard. The writer describes the palpitations Mrs. Mallard goes through the moment she comes to know the sudden demise of her husband, Brently Mallard. The writer, in the same piece of her work, describes the outer panorama of Mrs. Mallard’s bedroom window. It describes the condition Mrs. Mallard goes through after hearing the news. Kate Chopin has very subtly described the change in Mrs. Mallard’s emotions in contrast with the outer environment of her locality. She was supposed to be a heart patient, as illustrated by the author.

So, after she hears about her husband’s death due to a railroad disaster, she cried out initially. But, after having sobbed for some time, there was a quietness about her. Some kind of a mysterious calmness, which was very much similar to the skies which she could watch outside her bedroom window. The author describes the outside as calm, fresh with rain and spring. Somewhat similar was Mrs. Mallard’s condition after she cried. She felt a strange calmness within her. She could hear a distant singing too. Though she appeared to be calm and composed, she had a premonition that something was coming to her. But didn’t know what.

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At a later time, as she continued to sit in her armchair in her bedroom, she felt a deep sense of freedom. She even muttered the words “free, free, free” several times under her breath. Maybe she felt liberal after hearing of her husband’s death. But, it is still a mystery as to what she actually felt. The reason being that, at the end of the story, it is shown that her husband, Mr. Brently Mallard enters the house. This shows that he was not actually dead.

Now, at last, when Mrs. Mallard sees him alive and healthy, she is described as dying of “the joy that kills”. Now, there can be two things. One, she could have died after having learned that her husband was still alive when she was under the false impression that she was now “free”. Two, she could have died also due to the reason that she could not contain the happiness after seeing Mr. Mallard alive when all of her friends and she had taken him to have died in the mishap.

At one point, the author writes that Mrs. Mallard feels that now she does not have to answer anyone. She also felt that she would not have to bind herself with anyone in the coming years. She was elated, happy, and content with the thought that there were many good things for her in the future. She remembered that there was not even a single moment when Mr. Mallard had looked upon her with love and compassion. She relished the thought that she is free to do anything.

Her sister, on the other hand, though, that Louise would make herself ill by keeping herself locked inside her bedroom. But, Louise, on the other hand, was under a deep sense of exhilaration. She even prayed to God that her life might be long. This shows that Mrs. Louise Mallard was indeed very happy with the situation since it gave her complete freedom and a sense of being alone.

The particular lines- “She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory”, prove that Mrs. Louise Mallard was indeed very wary of what her life is going to be from now onwards. The climax comes when they all witness the arrival of her husband.

Now, the only plausible reason that she died of heart disease can be, that she could not digest the sudden change in all her plans which she had made just a few minutes back. She was no longer “free” now. And this might have taken her aback. The author also tells us at the beginning of the story that Mrs. Mallard had a weak heart.

The “Story of an Hour” was initially rejected because it showed the opposite attitude of what the women of that time were supposed to show. In those times, women were supposed to be selfless and family-oriented. But, this story by Kate Chopin portrayed the opposite of all this. Mrs. Mallard was shown to be selfish and not much family-oriented. She thought in her own self-interest. All this opposed the very thinking of the people of that time.

Conclusion

According to Barbara C. Ewell in her book, Kate Chopin, the editor of Century, R. W. Gilder, rejected the manuscript because of its feminist message. The magazine had been publishing anti-suffragist articles during this period and upheld a vision of women as selfless wives and mothers (Critical overview).

But finally, with the rise of women, her story was accepted.

Works Cited Page

Critical overview. 2008. Web.

Kate Chopin. The Story Of An Hour. 2008. Web.