What is the theme of The Story of an Hour? This essay aims to answer the question. It focuses on the theme of freedom and Independence in The Story of an Hour by Cate Chopin. The essay contains summary and analysis of the short story.
Kate Chopin grips and impresses readers through this story, despite it being a short depiction of the plot. Mrs. Mallard, the main character suffers from a heart disorder, which necessitates cautious delivery of the news about the death of her husband (Chopin, 3). Her marriage is postulated as one marked with spells of unhappiness. Despite her husband’s financial ability, she is posited as one whose search for life satisfaction had borne no tangible results. The room she spends most of her time in is her abode of solace, owing to the fact she has no children. Most of her days are spent in solitary in her room. Her unhappy life is also outlined by the frequent sobs, be they a sign of distraught or tangible reason.
The Story of an Hour Summary
The Story of an Hour tells the reader the story about Louise Mallard, a woman who receives the news that her husband has died in an accident. Devastated at first, Louise hides in her bedroom to be alone. However, as she sits and thinks about what has happened, she begins to feel a sense of freedom and independence. She understands that she was trapped in a loveless marriage and now has the opportunity to live her own life.
Freedom in The Story of an Hour
Chopin (p15) posits that the new world visible to her represents the oncoming freedom and life full of excitement. The metamorphosis in her life is vividly outlined in her book, with calmness in her face at the backdrop of a dull stare in her eyes. The beauty in the blue sky and whispering trees laced with melodious songs of the birds fill her soul with profound happiness and elation.
However, she does not allow herself to be carried away by the unfamiliar grounds represented by her soul are owing to the newfound freedom. Her ability to control the overwhelming yet confusing feeling is an illustration that she is deeply embedded in social norms and is conscious of the reaction of society towards her conduct. From then on, most of her emotions are hinged on the expectation of society. The timing and kind of emotions she displays become a creation of societal expectations.
As the story progresses we can discern the reason for her unexpected emotional display. She is finally devoid of the peer influence of men over women, characterized by persistence to impose their will over a fellow human being (Chopin, 20). She is subject to her husband’s influence and the unhappiness in her lie is a product of the control exerted by her husband over her life. Death is the only solace she has to break free of the yoke of domination.
Her long-awaited life in freedom is interrupted by incessant summoning by her sister. However, Mrs. Mallard is not aware of the shock awaiting her on the other side of the door. Her husband is well and alive and is oblivious of neither the accident nor a list of dead people. As described by the story, Mrs. Mallard dies of ‘joy that kills’ (Chopin, 30). The realization that her dream life remains a dream is too much for her to absorb. Instead of dying of new of her husband’s death, the irony is that the sight of her husband, alive and well, ended her life as well as the ‘hour of happiness’.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour Tale Blazers. Perfection Learning, 2000, p1-32