The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin: Analysis

“The Story of an Hour” is a short story written by Kate Chopin in 1894. The title correlates with the moment when the main character, Louise Mallard, learns that her husband Brantley died in a train accident, and then she knows that he is still alive. This essay aims to analyze the characteristics of the main and minor characters and consider their actions and emotions.

In “The Story of an Hour,” readers discover that Mrs. Mallard has heart problems, so when her husband dies, her family has to be extra careful to report her husband’s death. Her sister Josephine told her the terrible news in broken sentences (Chopin, 1894). At first, Louise feels numb and initially in complete shock and wants to be completely alone to process her loss. She wept bitterly in her sister’s arms, and after the storm of grief had subsided, she went to her room alone and did not allow anyone to follow her (Chopin, 1894). This situation gives the reader the understanding that Louise loved her husband and is now grieving his death.

As soon as Louise is alone, she notices something she has not seen in a long time, and she notices the attractive beauty of nature outside her window. After that moment, she starts to feel optimistic about life. Louise said, “free, free, free!” (Chopin, 1894). She starts thinking about all the good times she is going to have now when her husband is dead. Naturally, she knows that she will regret everything when she sees her husband’s corpse at the funeral, but Louise is looking forward to the freedom that will now change her life.

When Louise retired to her room, her sister Josephine was very worried about her. She was on her knees in front of her sister’s room and begged her to open the door and not harass herself. She was shouting through the keyhole: “I beg; open the door—you will make yourself ill” (Chopin, 1894). She did not know that Louise was standing by the open window, enjoying the freedom she had longed.

Louise seems unsure of how she feels about her husband, but it was not love. Although she appears to look to the future as a widow at the end of the story, Brantley opens the door and walks into the house. He tells her the news that there was a mistake and that he was not on the train. Louise then dies from the riots, and it is unexpectedly assumed that she died from “the joy that kills” the people there, suggesting that she was so happy to see her husband alive that she died from shock (Chopin, 1894). The story of an hour ended so tragically and unexpectedly.

From the beginning of the story, the author presents his heroine as a weak woman with a sick heart. When Louise learns the terrible news, the author reveals her anguish for her dead husband. Chopin (1894) writes that she sank into a chair, suffering from physical exhaustion that spread throughout her body and seemed to reach into her soul. Then, when the heroine realizes that she is now free, the author shows her happiness and freedom. In the end, when her husband enters the house completely healthy, the author offers the reader the death of Louise, caused by joy.

In conclusion, this piece of literature tells a story from mournful grief to incredible happiness that lasted only one hour. The end of the story came very suddenly, and the very essence was entirely unexpected. The author tells the reader about the tragedy of this situation, thanks to the careful observation of the main character and the expressive details of the story. Although the story is short, it still reveals all the deep essence that the author wanted to show.

Reference

Chopin, K. (1894). The story of an hour. Vogue.