The Story of an Hour is a short story written by Kate Chopin. The protagonist in the play is Louise Mallard, a woman who has been repressed by her husband for many years. The other characters in the story are Louise husband, her sister Josephine and Richards who is a friend to Louise husband. The Story of an Hour is a replica of many marriages in our society. Most women in these marriages are under repression from their husbands.
Like Louise, women in many marriages are struggling to come out of the repression and to find the ultimate joy of being free. When Louise learns of her husband’s premature death, she is overjoyed by the thought of being free at last. This shows us that love in marriage is something that should not be oppressed by one gender over the other, because a person could become overly excited if coming to the realization that they have the chance of being independent again. (Chopin)
When Louise husband dies, everyone is at a loss on how to break the sad news to her. According to the story, great care was taken to break the sad news to Mrs. Mallard since she had a heart disease. (Chopin) Both her sister Josephine and Richards his husband’s friend struggle to look for the best way to break the news to her since they do not know how she will react to the news. At last, Josephine is given the daunting task of informing her of the death.
Josephine decides to do this “in broken sentences” to avoid a situation that could cause Louise to have a heart attack. When the truth finally dawns on her, she only weeps once in to her sisters arms. Although Louise is hit by a wave of grief, she is immediately back to normal. This is unlike other women who mourn the death of their husband’s for days on end. Afraid of revealing her true feelings to those around her, Louise decides to lock herself in to her room.
Once there, the world seems to come alive around her. In short, the news makes her see the world in a new light. This clearly shows that even though the husband loved her, he had not given her room to express her feelings. This makes her feel like a caged animal. Once the period of grief is over, Louise is overcome by calmness and thoughts of joy that at first she tries to push away. Given that her husband has died and that she should be mourning, she tries to repress this joy but she is unable to. Her will is unable to repress the reality and she shouts with joy that she is free at last. These words even terrify her making her “pulse to beat faster”. Given that she loved her husband, we are left to guess the scale of repression that had existed in the marriage.
The other thing that we might deduce from the narration is that despite the repression Louise is truly saddened by the death of her husband. The story tells us that Louise “was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression” (Chopin) This quote goes a long way in showing us the level of oppression that she was subjected to by her husband. Although the author of the narration is categorical that the marriage was not loveless, she shows us that there is need for more than love for a marriage to be happy. Despite the love, Louise seems to be unhappy in her marriage and there is dullness in her face and her overall personality.
Once she got the news of her husband’s death, “there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky” (Chopin) This might be seen to mean that the grief was real and that she did not expect her husband to die so soon. She therefore seems to be in a state of denial something that keeps her sane and happy. When her husband finally appears, she dies of a heart attack.
The only plausible thing that we can deduce to have caused the heart attack was that her husband’s reappearance robbed her of her newfound freedom, joy and independence. This refutes any thoughts one might have had to the effect that Louise was saddened by the death of her husband.
The Story of an Hour shows that love is not complete when one partner feels superior to the other. Both partners should be able to respect each other for a peaceful coexistence. According to the story, Mallard did not give Louise enough freedom. This made her to feel deprived of her opinion and space as an equal partner in the relationship. This fact makes her to be excessively happy upon hearing of her husband’s death something that is contrary to norm. To Louise, the death of her husband means that she will get the freedom that she has always yearned for. However, this freedom is short lived because she dies of a heart attack once the husband is back in her life.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. n.d. Web.