Posted: March 24th, 2023
The Story of an Hour records critical events in the life of Mrs. Mallard, who had an ailing heart. The protagonist is informed about a fatal work accident in which her husband dies. She locks herself in the bedroom but she is struck by an unexpected feeling of freedom in the midst of mourning her husband (Chopin 56-58). The feeling of love for her husband overwhelms her. The love represents a sort of prison for her, which prevented her from living as she wished. As she contemplates her new freedom, her husband appears at the door alive and well. Apparently, a miscommunication had occurred, and her husband was wrongly identified as the dead worker. The shock she experiences upon seeing her husband alive causes her weak heart to skip a beat.
Kate Chopin’s short story has clear support for the freedom and empowerment of women. Contrary to popular belief, the author represents love not as empowering as it is often characterized, but as a tool of repression and oppression that manipulates and deprives women of their inherent power and personhood. In fact, this specific view particularly relates to my life experiences as I have witnessed many occasions when women have sacrificed their advancement in life for a love that always withers or is abruptly withdrawn as soon as it has served its purpose leaving women cheated and manipulated. Despite these depressing facts, I have also witnessed a profound revival in the gospel of women’s empowerment that is increasingly urging moment to choose themselves first and not be short-changed out of the success they are capable of achieving.
In many aspects, my general worldview appears to be aligned with the ideas presented in Kate Chopin’s text. For instance, women’s empowerment is a topic that profoundly relates to my values and what I perceive to be right or wrong. My opinion is that throughout history, women have been unfairly treated and often subjected to profoundly controlling, abusive, and limiting circumstances in the name of marital bliss, which is just a myth. While it may seem disagreeable to the human sense of morality for Mrs. Mallard to welcome her husband’s sudden demise, the protagonist can be forgiven for having endured the reins placed on her happiness and ability to thrive.
One of the critical lessons from The Story of an Hour is that even a seemingly tragic situation can be a setting from which positive transformations emanate. In the story, the sudden tragic death of Mr. Mallard causes his wife grief with which she struggles to cope. However, a good feeling comes from the misfortune as Mrs. Mallard is struck by a sudden sense of liberation. Her existence, ending in the tragic death, becomes clear as she awakens to the reality of her prison (Sustana). While Mrs. Mallard’s life also ends tragically, I feel that the momentary realization of her freedom was entirely worthwhile. She dies with the knowledge that it is indeed possible for a woman to live for herself and the situation she had previously dreaded was, in fact, a confirmation of her coming to age and attaining true freedom.
True happiness is among the elements that I feel to be the most important in life. In fact, an individual’s pursuit of happiness is protected in our constitution, as it is in international human rights provisions. I also believe that freedom is a prelude to happiness. Mrs. Mallard eventually comes to this realization as she struggles to mourn her husband. She realizes that her marriage has been an obstacle to her happiness by significantly constraining her freedom. Therefore, to be truly happy, human beings should have the freedom to choose the pursuits, values, beliefs, and practices that seem capable of bringing them happiness. The importance of this right is so profound that the absence of freedom is typically used as a form of serious punishment for those who fail to conform to societal norms. Any prisoner will readily indicate how valuable freedom is to a person.
The ability to choose freely is a right that is often downplayed by those who have never been without it, or those unaware that theirs have been significantly curtailed. The freedom to choose (of course within the bounds of morality and the law), is a fundamental mark of civility among humans. Confoundingly, nearly half of the human population has existed under highly restricted freedom backed by religion, culture, and even some laws and policies that abound in many political jurisdictions. Therefore, it is no surprise that women will remain to be recognized as society continues to evolve and become civilized.
It also becomes evident that no one needs to have control over women to acquire their respect or for important social institutions to function optimally. Individual freedom regardless of gender is now viewed as a fundamental human right, a clear indication that humankind continues the unrelenting march toward true civilization. In the guise of marital bliss, the oppression and servitude of women over the ages have been systematic and complete but contemporary times hold great promise as women are awakened to their human right of freedom.
Undoubtedly, The Story of an Hour provides high entertainment value, partly because the life-altering events happen within such a short period that the characters have barely any time to acclimatize before another major event takes place. The author also provides some comic relief when Mr. Mallard unexpectedly reappears just when his wife was beginning to enjoy his demise. The scene is characterized as a tragic comedy because death results from the comical reappearance of a presumably dead person. The brevity of the story, which results in a fast-paced narrative, also contributes to its entertainment value.
Overall, I was significantly affected by not only the tragic end of the protagonist but also the important themes represented in the story. I am now aware that the way we perceive personal freedom versus how we experience it, in reality, requires some form of reconciliation. My belief in fairness is now more than it has ever been pronounced. It is surprising that people could be going through their entire lives without realizing that their freedom is greatly restricted. To address this challenge, I endorse female empowerment and the freedom to pursue endeavors for the betterment of their lives and careers.
Chopin, Kate. The Complete Works of Kate Chopin. Per Seyersted (Ed.), Louisiana State
University Press, 1969, pp. 56-58.
Sustana, Catherine. “Analysis of ‘The Story of an Hour‘ by Kate Chopin.” ThoughtCo., 8
Sep. 2017. Accessed 12 Jan. 2019.
Wan, Xuemei. “Kate Chopin’s View on Death and Freedom in The Story of an Hour.”
English Language Teaching, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 167-70.
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