Devoir de Philosophie

The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin’s short story was first published in 1894 and like most of her stories, “The Story of An Hour” focused on women and their journeys to independence and self-discovery. Chopin was married by the age of 20 and 12 years later her husband passed away. The story is believed to be derived from her personal experience. “The Story of An Hour” is about a woman who had just learned of the death of her husband, she wept at first in the arms of her sister but then retreated to her room. While she was sitting alone in her room she came to the realization that with a dead husband she was finally free, for the first time in her life, but shortly after that her husband walked in through the door and she dropped dead, Doctors said she had died “of the joy that kills”. This story as many of Chopin’s stories raises the question of what marriage was like, back in the 19th century, especially for women. First, we will study the inevitable oppressive nature of marriage in the 19th century. Then, we will study the unattainable joy of independence.   The inevitable oppressive nature of marriage is the greatest hidden theme in this short story. Marriage in the 19th century was believed to be a patriarchal tool used to control women and their lives. Louise’s reaction to the death of her husband showed that she was genuinely devastated by the news. They had a loving marriage “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead.”, this paragraph showed that she was mourning her husband  and that he was a loving husband. This shows that Louise’s feelings of freedom weren’t criticizing her marriage in particular but the institution of marriage itself.  Even though she had a happy or “normal” marriage she was feeling entrapped and imprisoned, but her shackles broke when her husband died.   The unattainable joy of independence is shown throughout the story. The short story was originally titled “The Dream of An Hour”, it is described as a dream to describe something unrealistic and unreachable. Women were not allowed to think for themselves or have an opinion of their own, they had to have the same opinions as their husbands or fathers, at the time. It took her husband dying for her to feel free, it was the only way, back then, for a woman to be free, as women were always financially dependent on men, a woman goes from being dependant on her father to being dependant on her husband, she had no say or choice in the matter and for her to be truly independent she had to be a rich widow so she would not have to worry or think about remarrying another man to support her, and even then, society would not leave her alone. When Josephine and Richards told her about her husband’s death, she had the reaction society expected from every woman, she wept and was overwhelmed by grief however when she was left alone with her thoughts, she began to realize that she is now independent, free. Mrs Mallards name was not mentioned until the later in the story which indicated that she had no identity or individuality before she felt free from the chains of marriage. She found her individual identity when she realized she was finally free. And even when she started to embark on this self-discovery journey there was a resisting force inside of her, the idea of independence was so unimaginable that she tried to dismiss her thoughts and ignore what she was starting to feel. She was fighting her own thoughts because society taught her that they were unacceptable and basically never heard of. Even though her husband was dead, and she started feeling free, society and the people around her were still surrounding her, imprisoning her even if they did not mean to. Her sister went upstairs to check on her, believing that she would make herself sick if she stayed alone. But she was, in fact happy, to be alone enjoying her newfound freedom. She eventually came out of her room after her sister begged her, and while they were descending the stairs together her husband opened the door and walked in, clueless about the situation because he was in no way near the train accident and did not know about it. When she saw him, she collapsed and died instantly. Her death suggests that after she has discovered her freedom and her individual identity it was unimaginable for her to see herself abandoning it and bending to her husbands will and opinions again. In Louise’s case death was an escape, it was the only way possible to freedom. Louise’s husband did not know and will never know that his return to life was the reason for his wife’s death. In conclusion of her story, Chopin uses irony to send a message to the reader. The doctors said Mrs. Mallard died “of the joy that kills” but at the end the reader suspects and may even know that she died from heartbreak over the life that she will never get to live, she died from the heartbreak over the glimpse of freedom she had seen but will never get to fully experience. Chopin wanted to show the reader how women in the 19th century felt. How they were expected to be dutiful, obedient wives and mothers without anyone giving a second thought to what they might want or need.  Chopin uses “The Story of An Hour” to show the reader how women felt and were seen in society. Mrs. Mallard’s character was given more depth, she was written to open the reader’s eyes to the fact that there’s more to a woman than just being a wife or a mother, that a woman deserves more from life and can be more than just a wife or a mother.

« “The Dream of An Hour”, it is described as a dream to describe something unrealistic and unreachable. Women were not allowed to think for themselves or have an opinion of their own, they had to have the same opinions as their husbands or fathers, at the time. It took her husband dying for her to feel free, it was the only way, back then, for a woman to be free, as women were always financially dependent on men, a woman goes from being dependant on her father to being dependant on her husband, she had no say or choice in the matter and for her to be truly independent she had to be a rich widow so she would not have to worry or think about remarrying another man to support her, and even then, society would not leave her alone. When Josephine and Richards told her about her husband's death, she had the reaction society expected from every woman, she wept and was overwhelmed by grief however when she was left alone with her thoughts, she began to realize that she is now independent, free. Mrs Mallards name was not mentioned until the later in the story which indicated that she had no identity or individuality before she felt free from the chains of marriage. She found her individual identity when she realized she was finally free. And even when she started to embark on this self-discovery journey there was a resisting force inside of her, the idea of independence was so unimaginable that she tried to dismiss her thoughts and ignore what she was starting to feel. She was fighting her own thoughts because society taught her that they were unacceptable and basically never heard of. Even though her husband was dead, and she started feeling free, society and the people around her were still surrounding her, imprisoning her even if they did not mean to. Her sister went upstairs to check on her, believing that she would make herself sick if she stayed alone. But she was, in fact happy, to be alone enjoying her newfound freedom. She eventually came out of her room after her sister begged her, and while they were descending the stairs together her husband opened the door and walked in, clueless about the situation because he was in no way near the train accident and did not know about it. When she saw him, she collapsed and died instantly. Her death suggests that after she has discovered her freedom and her individual identity it was unimaginable for her to see herself abandoning it and bending to her husbands will and opinions again. In Louise's case death was an escape, it was the only way possible to freedom. Louise's husband did not know and will never know that his return to life was the reason for his wife's death. »

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