A Woman Who Is a Person in Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour

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A Woman Who Is a Person in The Story of an Hour

In her book, The Faces of Eve, Judith Fryer writes, "In the last year of the nineteenth century a woman succeeded where men had failed: Kate Chopin created . . . a woman who is a person." Chopin’s short story, "The Story of an Hour," openly portrays the true feelings of a woman who feels trapped inside her marriage. In the period in which she lived, there were only two alternatives for her to achieve the much desired personal freedom—either she or her husband must die!

Chopin’s story was controversial from the beginning. It was rejected for publication by both Vogue and Century magazines as "a threat to family and home." Vogue later published the story only after another of
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Perhaps the rain symbolizes the feeling of refreshment after tears have drenched the soul and washed away whatever sorrows it may have possessed. Chopin speaks of someone singing in the distance and birds "twittering in the eaves." This might correlate to the slow awakening within Louise’s spirit, as the birds break into song and the singing grows closer, the joy within her comes fully into being.

Mrs. Mallard seems to stare at the "patches of blue sky." as the blue sky breaks through the clouds, so does the realization of freedom burst into Louise’s soul. Fearfully, she tries to fight back what she feels; she "was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will" (521-522). Finally, Louise gives in to her emotions and begins to whisper that she is now "free, free, free."

What reasons could Louise possibly have for being happy about her husband’s death? Was he a bad man? Did he physically, sexually, or emotionally abuse her? Any answer I might come up with would be pure speculation since the story is vague on this matter. I personally believe that her husband loved her very much. The story itself states that Mrs. Mallard would weep when she saw "the face that had never looked save with love upon her." However, the fact that her husband loved her does not necessarily mean that their marriage was a happy one. From Louise’s cries of "free, free, free," one could come to