The Theme of Chopin’s “Story of an Hour”
The Theme of Chopin’s Story of an Hour Literature uses written word to inspire readers and help them “become” part of the story. This escape route for readers is often the hook that catches them in the lip. In Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour, the literary elements that are planted so carefully throughout incite curiosity and pique the interest of its audience. This ironic tale is written in such a way that it was still considered for publication in the early 19th century, while also conveying the message of oppression among women.
This theme can be applied to many women of the time who felt trapped in a marriage as merely a possession instead of an equally respected partner in the relationship. The theme of a literary work is a depiction of the inspiration behind the story (Clugston, 2010). The theme of Kate Chopin’s Story of an Hour is one of oppression and repression built on literary elements of setting, character, symbolism, and point of view. The setting for this story is the Mallard homestead, and it took place in late nineteenth century when women were expected to do little more than keep house, cook, bear and raise children.
The Theme of Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” Essay Example
Even the best efforts of women’s-rights activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony were not enough for women to even receive the right to vote by the end of the century. Taking this stereotypical treatment into account The Story of an Hour hints that Mrs. Mallard’s husband, likely a man of the times, dominated his wife. Mrs. Mallard likely repressed her desire to be in charge of her own life; thereby causing stress in her life and marriage. This stress is probably the culprit of Mrs.
Mallard’s heart troubles referred to in the first sentence of this story. The main character, Mrs. Mallard, is introduced as a woman with a weak heart who is unaware of her husband’s recent demise. Her sister, Josephine, and her husband’s friend, Richards, were the chosen bearers to break the news to her gently so as not to upset her too much. Mrs. Mallard’s husband is thought to have been killed in a railroad disaster. Her immediate reaction is to grieve with “wild abandonment,” but she soon seeks solitude. Alone in her room, she becomes acutely aware of her situation and her senses.
She feels almost as if a cloud of darkness has lifted from her soul allowing her to regain her life and live it to its fullest potential. As the audience reads, her feelings come to life. Her visions are clearly seen, the readers can feel her chest heaving, and they can hear the birds chirping. She feels a feeling that has long been repressed by the relationship she had been in, she becomes illuminated by the freedom from oppression; the opportunity to be liberated once again. The freedom overwhelms her as she opens her arms widely to welcome it as it envelopes her mind, body, and soul.
As this newly found freedom abounds, Chopin chooses to introduce the audience to Louise; she is no longer weighted down with the identity of Mrs. Mallard. She has again found her true self; her own identity apart from being Mr. Mallard’s possession, and she longs to relish this independence for many years to come. Josephine inquires about her sister’s well-being, and soon Louise opens the door to meet her sister, with a new sense of herself “like a goddess of Victory. ” This simile illustrates the newfound confidence that Louise has embraced.
Together the sisters descend the staircase and meet Richards at the bottom. Just then Brently Mallard opens the door and is unharmed and unaware of the situation that has been created. Josephine lets out a piercing cry and Richards attempts to shield Mrs. Mallard from the sight of Mr. Mallard, but he is too late. Mrs. Mallard’s heart stopped and in this instance, she had everything she had been dreaming of…freedom. Several symbols are used in this story. For example, the staircase serves as a symbol for the ups and downs Mrs. Mallard experiences. She ascends to freedom and descends to death.
Another symbol Chopin used in this literary masterpiece was the “new spring life. ” This symbolizes the new, exciting life that is awaiting Louise; while “patches of blue sky” indicate the emergence of her new life. The omniscience of the narrator allows us to become Mrs. Mallard, seeing through her eyes, breathing through her lungs, and desiring what she desires. This point of view is critical to understanding the story in its entirety. The audience may never have understood the way this story ended if it were from Mrs. Mallard’s first-person point of view.
The irony plays out until the very end, not only with Mrs. Mallard’s passing, but also with the notion that this occurred due to the overwhelming joy she felt when seeing Mr. Mallard alive and well. Being told in the third-person point of view, allows the reader to have insight into Mrs. Mallard’s true feelings and thoughts. Through the use of the literary elements of setting, character, symbolism, and point of view, Kate Chopin created a literary masterpiece focused around the theme of women’s oppression and repression during the late nineteenth century.
The author keeps things simple, with a short time frame of approximately one hour, using the home as the only setting, and only one story line to follow. By doing this, the audience can easily follow the plot of this story even with its many ambiguities. This engaging work of genius is so well written and descriptive that the readers can be consumed until the very end. References Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. https://content. ashford. edu/books