The Story of an Hour
By Kate Chopping
This story features a young woman, Louise Mallard, who is suffering from a heart condition and who is about to receive the bad news of her husbands death. Her husband, Mr. Brently Mallard, was believed to have died in a train accident. The news of Mr. Brently death was recorded in one of the news papers and Richard who is a friend to the Mallards discovered the news. He decided to inform Louises sister, Josephine, about this, so that they could find a better way for breaking this news to Louise since she had a heart condition. Taking precaution about Louises heart conditions Josephine gently breaks the news of Mr. Mallards death to her sister.
At fast Louise was grieved by this news and locked her self up in her room. But as she was meditating looking outside through her window, different thoughts came into her mind. According to the story, as she sat down she saw the patches of clouds that were covering the blue sky begin clearing and new spring life. This changed the way she viewed the situation after her husbands death. She begins to see her husband death as a means to her freedom. She tried to resist these thoughts but they overpowered her and she was heard uttering the word free for several times. At this time, Josephine was at the door concerned about Louises condition and had come to get her. As they walked down from her room, someone was at the door. Surprisingly, it was Mr. Mallard who was thought to have been dead. After seeing this, Louise had a heart attack and the doctor arrived too late after she was gone. According to the doctor, Louise died from joy that kills. All these events transpired within one hour.
The story takes place in the nineteenth century and the setting is a typical American home. During this period there was a lot of oppression on the female, as women were expected to keep the house, bear and rear children and take care of their husbands. This story is a reflection of circumstances and experiences that women in the nineteenth century were going through.
Various themes are brought out in this story and the major one is the theme of oppression. The nineteenth century was characterized by a lot of oppression for the women who were viewed as weaker sex and who must remain at home to cook, bear children and take care of the home. In terms of employment, women were not considered for meaningful positions. There are also signs that Louise was experiencing oppression in her marriage. This is brought out by the thought of freedom that came to her after she heard about her husbands death. There is also a statement about her loving her husband sometime and often not loving him at all. Her heart condition may have been as result of this oppression.
The main character in this story is Mrs. Louise Mallard who receives the news of her husband death. This news brought to her a feeling of freedom more than grief. But on discovering that there had been a mistake about her husband deaths, her weak heart was not able to hold and she died. This character has been crucial in developing the theme of the play.
Other characters include Josephine who was Louises sister, Brently Mallard who was Louises husband, Richard who was a friend to the Mallards and the doctor who arrived to treat Mrs. Louise. These characters have been used to provide continuity in the story and also to support the development of the theme.
Various styles have been used in the development of this story. The style that has been widely used is symbolism. The author talks about patches of blue sky and clouds that meet and pile upon each other. The clouds in this case symbolize the oppression that characterized Louise life. The visible patches of blue sky symbolize the clearing of the clouds which represent oppression. The new spring life also symbolizes a new beginning for Louises life. The authors also talk about Louises wrinkles which are symbol of repression and oppressed life.
The author has also made use of repetition to emphasize on certain points and themes. The word open has been repeated several times in the story to symbolize opening up of Louises life. The word free has also been used severally. The author has also made wide use of metaphors which have contributed to making the story interesting. The author talks about storm of grief, Physical exhaustion that haunted her body and things that were approaching to posses her. Other figures of speech such as personification, cloud that met and oxymoron joy that kills have been widely used developing the story.
Through the story of Louise the theme of oppression against women in the 19th century is brought out. It appears like the marriage life had oppress Louise to the extent of getting feeling of freedom after get the news about her husbands death. Though they say that Louise died from joy that kills the real cause of death may likely be from disappointment that she would not enjoy the freedom she had imagined of.
Kate Chopping (1894), The Story of an Hour, retrieved on February 10, 2011, from http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/
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