The Story of an Hour Literary Criticism “The Story of an Hour” is a short story by Kate Chopin. Chopin was born February of 1850 in St.Louis, Missouri. Her writing was heavily influenced by her mother, Eliza O’Flaherty, who was of French descent. Kate went to school at St.Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart. At this school, Kate Chopin had developed the skills to be able to think independently, but be submissive to men (Marquand). Throughout Chopin’s life, she was surrounded by numerous women, who served as her mentors. These women consisted of her mother, her grandmother, and nuns. A lot of the stories that Chopin has published have to do with the way that she grew up as a child and the way she was mentored throughout by the significant women in her life (Tolentino). In “The Story of an Hour”, Louise Mallard was hurt from her unhealthy relationship in her marriage, which was male-dominated, and she felt independence and freedom during that one hour after she was given the news of her husband’s death (Smith). During the time period that Chopin was living, 1894, women had barely any power or say in what was going on. Chopin writes “The Story of an Hour” to demonstrate the type of problems/issues that women faced during her time period. However, Chopin’s takes on a different perspective of the problem/issue than what society would expect her to take (Tolentino). At the end, the women ends up getting what she wants to fulfill in her life. Chopin’s breaks free from the societal norms to embrace her independence and not live under the shadow of an man. One significant incident that occured in Kate Chopin’s life is the fact that she had became a widow at the young age of only 32 (Chopin). Before she became a widow, she was married to a businessman, Oscar Chopin. Oscar and Kate lived in New Orleans, Louisiana during their time together and they had a family of six children, consisting of five sons and one daughter. Oscar Chopin unexpectedly died from a fever in 1882 and Kate was left with no option but to raise her children all by herself, as a single mother until the time of her death in 1904 (O’Connor). She even ran her husband’s business for one full year after his death. Kate Chopin wasn’t the only widow in her family, as she had a lot of personal experience that she could relate to. In fact, her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother were all widows as well. Kate Chopin’s transformation from a dependent wife to an independent widow is represented not only in “The Story of an Hour” but in numerous of her other stories as well. Throughout the duration of Kate Chopin’s life, death constantly surrounded her. Starting with her grandmother and half-brother, who died when Kate Chopin was at the young age of eleven, the death of Kate’s husband and parents soon followed. According to Smith, Kate was the only one of her siblings that didn’t die at a young age (Smith). Death was a huge part of Chopin’s life, as it ended up taking the lives of all these people that were dear and close to Kate’s heart.This specific short story mirrors the life of Kate Chopin’s mother. A very significant event that occured in Chopin’s life that directly correlates with “The Story of an Hour”, is when her father (Eliza’s husband), Thomas O’Flaherty was killed in a railroad accident in the year of 1855. Similarly, the husband in the short story was also killed in an train accident during the same year, 1855 (Nisinger). Chopin wrote, “It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of killed” (Chopin).  This shows the parallelism between the short story and Kate’s life, and indirectly Eliza O’Flaherty’s life. Another way that Chopin incorporates her personal life into “The Story of an Hour”, is by giving similar characteristics of her mother, Eliza O’Flaherty to Louise Mallard. For example, Kate’s mother, Eliza was very acquiescent with her husband just like Louise Mallard. Kate Chopin’s mother, Eliza had an arranged marriage. It is very clear that Louise also had an arranged marriage, due to the fact that she is enjoying the freedom that she had always wanted/deserved after the death of her husband. In “The Story of an Hour”, Louise kept whispering, “Free! Body and soul free!”(Chopin). Chopin writes “The Story of an Hour” through the feminist lense. In the short story, Kate describes Louise Mallard, “She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength”(Chopin). The feminist theory is displayed at this particular point in the short story, Louise Mallard is viewed as becoming a stronger women. Later on, Kate writes,”It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought”(Chopin). Louise Mallard starts to realize that marriage has somewhat ruined her life, and changed her for the worse as a person. She also comes to a realization that throughout her marriage, she had been living with restrictions and limitations to fulfill the needs of her husband and not herself. As mentioned before, Kate writes stories where the women takes different perspective of the issue. In this short story, Louise Mallard comes to the conclusion that the loss of her husband has allowed her to begin to start living for herself. In “The Story of an hour”, Kate wrote “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature”(Chopin). This quote demonstrates how Louise Mallard let her husband control her in their unhealthy relationship. Kate displays marriage in this short story as it was in her time period, marriage allowed men to have complete control over women. Louise Mallard realizes that she wasn’t even allowed to have her own personal thoughts due to the dominance of her husband in her relationship. Kate Chopin’s connects her personal life throughout the  ” The Story of an hour”, and shows it through the feminist lense. This story is given through a different perspective through the character Louise Mallard. Louise Mallard is very happy after the death of her beloved husband, Kate Chopin’s demonstrates the negative perspective of marriage. She writes this short story to show how marriage is constraining and restricted. Louise Mallard doesn’t feel like she has freedom unless her husband is no longer living. Throughout the short story, Louise Mallard’s feelings about her husband are very minimal, she did not have strong feelings about him. As Kate Chopin’s wrote this story through the feminist lense, it is vividly shown as to what women are expected to do by men in society. Women were expected to stay at home, take care of the family, clean the house. While on the other hand, men were allowed to go out and work. Women’s voice were never heard, there opinions didn’t matter, and their feelings were never heard (Feminist Criticism). Throughout the short story, “The Story of an Hour”, Kate Chopin’s expressed her strong feminist viewpoints of how marriage is an method to remove women’s power in society. Kate Chopin’s clearly demonstrates that women are capable for being a strong individual without the need of a long term commitment relationship with men. Kate Chopin’s displays how women were viewed back in the time period, as incompetent housewifes. Kate Chopin take up a different perspective and displays how women are capable of living and supporting their own life, and can live a happy life without the constraints of marriage.


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