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Kate Chopin was the writer who presented the world with brilliant short and stories. She was able to portray numerous characters, themes, and symbols in several pages. ‘The Story of an Hour’ is a short story written in 1894; however, it was published only in 1895. The story deals with a female protagonist who feels liberty after the death of her husband. The main focus is put on a young woman. The actions took place in the 19th century and represent the series of emotions the main character, Mrs. Mallard, endures after she loses her husband. Despite the fact she locked herself in the room as soon as she got the horrible information, she is exhilarated. But when Mrs. Mallard sees her husband alive in the doorway, she dies. Everything happens in a single hour in one of the American homes. ‘The Story of an Hour’ covers the issues of place, time, and action. It means that all events of the story happen in the same location, in one day, and there are no subplots. The story shows how a loss of a person, even a loving one, may turn to be a benefit due to the feeling of freedom and relief.
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The characters of the story are Mrs. Louise Mallard, her husband Brently Mallard, Josephine who is Louise’s sister, and Brently’s friend Richards. Louise Mallard is an intelligent woman and clearly understands the right way women should behave. She is not cruel; however she has bright thoughts about her future instead of being in grieve for the husband. She had a heart problem. This problem is both emotional and physical and is closely associated with the relationship with Brently. The reappearance of the husband breaks her joy and this break is fatal. Her heart did not endure the shock, reconsideration of new fredom and disappointment.
Brently Mallard is Louise’s husband. He was supposedly killed in a train accident, but it was not true. Brently was a loving and caring man. The man arrived home having no idea about the train crash and the rumors about his sudden death. Another character is Josephine. She is Mrs. Mallard’s sister. Josephine is the person who informed Louise about her husband’s death. Richards is Mr. Mallard’s friend who learns about the accident at the newspaper office.
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A heart trouble is a symbol that represents a mixture of feelings toward the marriage and unhappiness that go along with the lack of Louise’s freedom. The first fact that a reader learns about Louise is her heart problem. It suggests the idea that this might be the main concern when she gets information about Brently’s death. However, this is not the case with her. Her heart was filled with joy when she heard such news. Mrs. Mallard’s death is related to her heart disease that becomes acute because of a sudden loss of her cherished independence and freedom.
The open window is the symbol of future opportunities, freedom, and independence that wait for Louise in the near future. She sees the blue sky and clouds, smells a rainstorm and hears birds. Everything Mrs. Louise experiences through the open window is associated with her joy and new life. The window provides her with dreams, bright future, and life itself. However, all dreams are lost as soon as she turns from the window and sees her husband. Everything is gone, her life as well.
‘The Story of an Hour’ makes it evident that the author represents the idea of freedom. Thee minor theme of the story is that life is not as it seems. Despite the fact that Mrs. Mallard shows love, respect and appreciation of her husband, his death mirrors pleasant feelings and excitement.
Oppression is another theme of the story. In the 19th century, women were expected to have very limited rights. Their duty was to cook, clean, bear and bring up children, and look pretty to be attractive for their husbands. At that time, women had almost no chances to be employed. The story represents Mr. Mallard as a good man, but he contributed to the unfairness and discrimination of women dominating the life of his wife. Hence, the author conveys the message that all marriages are inherently oppressive even if they presuppose love, affection, and kindness.
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Another theme that is present in the story is repression. The story portrays Louise Mallard as a woman with a weak will. Her marriage made her experience constant stress that has negatively influenced her heart health. Loss of freedom was the last drop that made her heart stop beating.
Thus, the story represents the controversial feeling of loss and gain: the loss of a loving husband, who is not ideal, and the gain of a new free life. The main character is one of the women who silently bear their fate in the unhappy marriages. Death evokes excitement, rather than grief and completely changes her outlook on life. ‘The Story of an Hour’ is a representation of the situation that may be typical for any family. The main idea that is clearly represented in the story is that every woman, even the happiest one, may seek freedom. Bad news may turn to be good news if they are related to better future prospects.
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