Other essays and articles in the Literature Archives related to this topic include : The Awakening by Kate Chopin: The Process of Edna’s Awakening • Gender and Social Criticism in The Awakening by Kate Chopin • Character Analysis of Edna in “The Awakening” and Discussion About Conflict & Climax • American Literature in Historical Context : 1865 to Roosevelt • Death as a Metaphor in “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin
The omniscient narrator of “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin immediately informs the reader that the main character, Mrs. Mallard suffers from heart trouble, thus revealing to her that her husband died will have to be done with great care. Her sister, Josephine is the one selected for the task as her husband’s friend, Richards stands by as he was the one who double-checked and made certain that Mr. Mallard’s name, Brently, was on the list of those killed in the railroad accident.
Interestingly, the main character, Mrs. Mallard does not, as the narrator says in one of the important quotes from “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, “hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance” but instead she wails with “wild abandonment” and steals away to be alone in her room, shunning her sister and slumping into one of her armchairs in a state of shock. At this point one would expect her to be hysterical, but instead, she sits facing the open window and for a moment just feels hollow before suddenly noticing the world outside. It is spring and the world outside of her window is buzzing and alive. She notices that the trees “were all aquiver with the new spring life” and this marks a turning point in “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin as the main character looks outward and begins to realize something important about her life.
The new day outside has completely absorbed the attention of Mrs. Mallard and while she still sobs occasionally, “as a child who has cried itself to sleep [and] continues to sob in its dreams” she is nonetheless completely taken with the outside world. She is finally described by the narrator of “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin as being “young, with a fair, calm face” and the reader imagines her sitting. The plot of “Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin” is clearly shifting as Mrs. Mallard suddenly realizes what is troubling and begins to whisper the words, “free, free, free” as she sees that her life can be her own now. In one of the most important quotes from “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the narrator says that at this moment, “she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome” as it becomes clear that her husband, who she only loved “sometimes” is gone and her life is hers, season after season.
Another important passage to this effect reads that, at this new point, “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.” For those interested, this moment in “Story of an Hour” is almost exactly a parallel with the moment Edna in another short story by Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”leaves her husband and realizes with sudden and intense clarity that her life is her own and calls into question gender issues of the Victorian era and how they are repressive to women.
This thoughtful section of the plot of “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin gives way to her sister, Josephine, knocking on her door, breaking her train of thought. She is worried about her health and urges her to come downstairs. She does so and suddenly, her husband walks in the door—he knew nothing of the railroad disaster. The main character dies at the conclusion of “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, of, as the narrator says, “a joy that kills” which is not to be taken literally, but instead means that his oppressive weight is back. She has seen the light and the shock of going back to that old life is too much. Although some could probably argue for a more literal interpretation of the ending of “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, it seems clear, given the overall meaning and themes in “Story of an Hour” that she did not die of happiness.