In the short story, "The Story of an Hour" Kate Chopin portrays deep emotions and feelings of women caused by their life grievances and low social position in society. The author does not create a detailed description of the main character, Mrs. Mallard, but it is evident that she is not happy with her husband. From the very beginning of the short story, Chopin gives only some hints to readers to rethink life circumstances and problems faced by Mrs. Mallard. Thesis For Mrs. Mallard “Free! Body and soul free!" can be interpreted as freedom from marriage relations and a new life, liberation and personal independence.
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Kate Chopin’s Kate Chopin "The Story of an Hour" is a story that has touched a nerve of many readers. The author of the short story seems to be very open with the reader in his discussion of the most vital problems of women. The major benefit of the short story is that it is actual for people of all times and epochs. The short story is threaded with incredibly sensuous imagery. Kate Chopin portrays “There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory“ (Chopin 758).As for the ending of the short story, it can be characterized as rather provocative. The main achievement of the short story is that it invites the reader into multiple re-readings and a wealth of interpretations. She allows herself to celebrate this emotional state:
Drawing the link between a woman and the society that is not willing to accept the emotional needs of the individual will become the main theme of this work. Chopin shows that the woman’s question is important for women readers as it unveils hardship and social relations inside the society. Using the character of Mrs. Mallard, Chopin describes her inner feelings: Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body” (Chopin 756). The major accent in the short story is put on bodily prerogatives that often overcome those of the human soul. However, the description of bodily prerogatives is just a hint on a more profound thing such as woman’s awakening from emotional slavery. The women question is especially interesting since American literature is depicting a totally different image of woman: a person who is stifling against the tedium of a provincial marriage. The women sees herself as totally different creature – free, independent, initiative and free to function on her own rather than according to the directions sent by the other people. The provincial woman tight up in the bonds of unhappy marriage seems to be replaced by an independent one.
The death of Mrs. Mallard’s husband symbolizes a freedom and personal liberation. Mrs. Mallard exclaims: "Free! Body and soul free!" she kept whispering.” (Chopin 757). The elements of the short story help the reader to perceive the new interpretation of a woman. Mrs. Mallard seems to be disillusioned by the societal struggle. The main charcater of the short story proves to be a victim of the outdated morality that has a devastating role on her mind. The importance of Chopin’s work does not lie in its anticipation of “the woman question”. Disintegration comes from a failure to conform with the former norms of behavior that had a rather stifling effect on a further fate of a woman. The visual stability in Mrs. Mallard’s life seems to have a disrupting effect on her further life. The situation is aggravated by the fact that Mrs. Mallard is a representative of an ambiguously religious family. Chopin depicts her: “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 256). This social position and role within the family was typical for many women of Mrs. Mallard’s historical age.
In the short story, the situation is hampered by the psychological problems that are being face by Mrs. Mallard. The main heroin seems to have two faces and two different characters that are hidden in one person. The attempt to internalize the contradiction results in the unique depiction of Mrs. Mallard’s character. At the early beginning of her life Mrs. Mallard started to practice dual life: an ideal wife and a liberator. She apprehended that she was doing wrong. Still, even the understanding that her behavior was rather indecent did not prohibit the main character of the short story from the liberation. Mrs. Mallard ‘s central problem is concerned a hidden self. Once a hidden “self” begins to exert its inexorable power. This power is presented in Mrs. Mallard ideas and life hopes that once have been fixated at the oral level. Along with that, Mrs. Mallard’s behavior is characterized by an insistent preoccupation with nourishment. In my opinion, the preoccupation with personal freedom is rather symbolical since the notion has rather different implication – a thirst for emotional fulfillment. In other words, the meaning of the personal liberation can be summarized as largely metaphorical since it shows Mrs. Mallard’s desire for emotional realization of her character.
Mrs. Mallard makes many movements many of these movements are aimed toward freedom. Mrs. Mallard ‘s main intention is to move out of her husband’s control. Very soon she accomplishes her goal. The analysis of this part of the short story is used to accentuate on her desire to free herself from the string of family bonds that have been imposed on the main heroin her by her husband and the society. Independence issue is one more focus of this paper. Mrs. Mallard is even known to make the some gestures that are aimed towards personal “independence”. Chopin writes: “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.” (Chopin 256). The decision to move from her husband’s control is virtually coincidental with the accident.
According to the author, the self of Mrs. Mallard is concerned with numerous experiences. As a result in many cases egocentrism becomes the main focus of people’s life. Engaged in the feeling of their own many individual threaten to lose the connection with the reality. The process may have an aggravating outcome for the people. As a result, they have to look for new way to express their emotions and inner worries. Liberation of Mrs. Mallard orresponds with the creation of more intimate bond between the ego and the world that surrounds it. This feeling is very dangerous for the humanity since people are constantly losing their own self. The mental health of the main character is also questioned. The above mentioned things make women more susceptible to the feeling of sorrow and unhappiness. In addition, the problems like these exist side by side with the narrow and more sharply demarcated ego-feeling of maturity. Many of these problems are caused by woman’s need to conform with the societal norms. According to Chopin woman’s infidelities and bad behavior is often caused by their life conditions that often lack happiness and emotional fulfillment.
In sum, the short story portrays that freedom and liberations are the main desires of a 19th century woman. For a long time, Mrs. Mallard was not courageous enough to change her life and divorce. Still, the Death of Mrs. Mallard at the end of the story symbolizes how impossible it was for the woman of her historical age to fight with life circumstances and survive. Mrs. Mallard dies, not by necessity, but simply giving up her dream without ever attempting to fulfill it. Probably, Mrs. Mallard understands uselessness and hopelessness of her life and existence.
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