Written By Kate Chopin, The Story Of An Hour Homework Essay Sample

Written by Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour is a short story that unveils the reaction of a woman, Mrs.Mallard, in response to receiving the news of her husband, Mr.Mallard’s death all within the span of an hour. Taking place in the late nineteenth century in the period of time where women had little to no voice nor social standing, Mrs.Mallard was no more than Mr.Mallard’s wife. Like other married women of her time, Mrs.Mallard remained home and tended to her husband. Up until she finds out about his death, we do not know much about Mrs.Mallard. It was not until the news of his death that we are given a piece of her identity. We learn that she is Louise Mallard. Towards the end of the story, we are told that “she uttered a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long “(Chopin 181). With this, we can only interpret her feelings toward her life before and after her realization of life following her husband’s death.

After receiving the news, Louise Mallard takes the news of her husband’s death and goes upstairs into her bedroom to gather her thoughts. Within her bedroom, an open window reviews trees and “patches of blue skies” (Chopin 6). Birds chirp and she speaks under her breath. “‘Free, free, free!’ The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes.” (Chopin 11) Louise feels a sudden change. Louise viewed her life with apprehension. She envisioned her life as nothing more than years of dullness while living under the shadow of her husband. The “shudder” she feels is of consternation for herself. Whereas one may dread the thought of living alone for the remainder of their life, the thought to Louise was enough reason to anticipate and become eager for the long life she now has ahead.

The open window symbolizes all the possibilities that have been opened for Louise Mallard. It was as if what had previously been weighing her down has been lifted. The blue skies and chirping birds emphasize a new beginning. The repetitive use of the word “open” emphasizes new possibilities in regards to the new life that she envisions for herself. Toward the end “She uttered a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long “(Chopin 181). Mrs.Mallard may have loved her husband but she did not love her life. She was restricted and limited to being no more than Mr.Mallard’s wife and forced to live under her husband’s shadow. She was not her own person. Not even her name was her own. It was not until the announcement of his death that we find that her name Is Louise. Upon the news of her husband’s death, she begins to feel that she is her own person and there is no longer anything holding her back from anything she wants to do. All the weight of what made her shudder at the thought of a long life has vanished. She did not question the news of Mr.Mallard’s death nor did she display denial. She accepted it in an instant. She went into the room to gather her thoughts and it was there in the room where we are shown her true feelings. What she meant by the quote was that before she hated her life and did not look forward to living her entire life as it was. Now, realizing her freedom and independence. She is eager for the days that lie ahead. It is ironic that while others would mourn at their lost, Louise Mallard does not see the situation as a loss at all; rather than a gift.

Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour is a story written on behalf of the time period she lived in. Her story unveils the troubling time women dealt with while they lived under their husbands. Kate Chopin’s character within the story, Mrs.Mallard displays what it was like to live as other women did in the late nineteenth century. She dreaded living under her husband’s shadow and dreaded her own life as a result. It was not until her husband’s death that she then began anticipating and looking forward to her life.

Author Kate Chopin Illustrates The Rampant Abusive Racism

In Désirée’s Baby (1892), author Kate Chopin illustrates the rampant abusive racism of the antebellum south that, not only became a way of life, but was necessary for survival. Armand’s cruelty towards and abuse of his slaves, his wife, and his child, becomes his way of punishing God for allowing him to be born with mixed heritage.

In the beginning of the story Chopin paints a picture of a man falling in love at the mere sight of a beautiful sleeping woman. It becomes clear the reminiscing of Désirée’s adopted mother Madam Valmont, suggests that Armand has known Désirée from the time she was a baby. Madame Valmont finds it a “wonder he had not loved her before; for he had known her since his father brought him home from Paris” (16). We can see the first hint that Armand may have ill intentions is presented when he chooses to marry the only woman in the area who has unknown parentage. Désirée’s “obscure origin” grants Armand the perfect scapegoat should his future children be born with mixed heritage. All seems to be going well for the young family and Armand’s temper seems to be sated. However, one day Désirée notices one of the slave children bears a striking resemblance to her baby. When Désirée asks Armand what it means, he responds with “it means you are not white” (91).

Désirée begins to question Armand, saying “Look at my hand: whiter than yours, Armand” (94), suggesting he is much darker than her and that the fault may lie with him. Armand chooses to then gaslight her by comparing her to one of his lighter-skinned slaves leaving Désirée no option but to take the blame and telling her to leave. In a final plea Désirée cries out for Armand “in a voice which must have stabbed him, if he was human” (86), a very powerful statement by the Chopin, as people born of mixed races or black, were not considered to be human in the antebellum south. Armand believing that the “Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him; and felt, somehow, that he was paying Him back in kind when he stabbed thus into his wife’s soul” (110), encapsulates just how deeply Armand detested God for what he was, and that Armand was even willing to hurt Désirée and their baby to punish God.

In Armand’s final act of defiance, he decides to burn all traces and memories of his wife and child, by burning the baby’s cradle, layette, Désirée’s dresses and the wedding corbeille. Among the letters Désirée wrote to Armand during their betrothal Armand finds a small piece of a letter. It was written by Armand’s mother to his father, she lets Armand’s father know how grateful she is that Armand will never find out he “belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery’ (140) The fact that there is only a small portion of the letter and that it happens to be the most damning part of the correspondence; lends to the notion it was kept by Armand as a reminder of what he is and what he stands to lose. Armand’s choice to burn away all proof of his heritage makes it clear he knew all along he was not white. The possibility of fathering a mixed race baby was very high and he needed to find someone to take the blame if that happened. When he saw Désirée sleeping he remembered her story and he made his move. This highlights just the level of cruelty he had in his willingness to destroy the life of another to secure his. Even in the end Armand was more concerned with getting back at God for his situation than for the lives of his wife and child. In his heart Armand would always know the truth he “belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery” (140). His ultimate punishment is knowing his lineage ended in flames.

Chopin’s Literary Influence In “The Story Of An Hour”

Having an unpopular opinion that differs from society is, often times, looked down upon and is not easy to do. It requires much strength to branch away from the traditional beliefs of society and develop a new voice. Author Kate Chopin was able to create her own personal literary voice based on her unique childhood upbringing. Kate Chopin is able to bring the reader into her own world previously unknown to society by using the development of characters, and interesting plot, and irony. Chopin is an influential author known for the powerful female characters present in her stories. At the time, Chopin’s stories received a lot of criticism, as they were unconventional for the time. Most definitely, Kate Chopin is truly a “literary genius,” by today’s standards. Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” establishes her remarkable literary influence by connecting the plot and character development, using vocabulary and irony.

The conditions surrounding Kate Chopin’s life and upbringing contributed to her literary voice. When Kate Chopin was only five years old, her father died. This left her mother and grandmother to raise Kate, and they would serve as an example of the strength to Kate. In being raised by these female characters, Kate found an alternative role for women. At the time, women mostly were responsibility for upholding the household and did not have much power outside of the home. Kate Chopin was born in St. Louis Missouri, and, where she was recognized for her unorthodox beliefs in comparison to traditional society. In 1870, Kate married her husband Oscar, and together they had six children. Just ten years later, Kate’s husband died of Malaria and she was left to raise her six children on her own (OnCampus). This difficult situation allowed Kate become more passionate to write about the strength that women have. Through the various relationships present in Chopin’s writing the focus on character in “The Story of an Hour”, allows readers to establish their own personal connection with the characters. Today Kate Chopins’ various stories is classified in the Realism period. Realism is the truthful treatment of material that focuses on everyday events that portray ordinary people and how they deal with society. One can describe Realist writing as stories that are socially critical of social, contain common events, and focus on the character. All of these Realist characteristics are present in “The Story of an Hour.”

For example, when Mrs. Mallard’s sister breaks the news that her husband has died, readers are told: “It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing (Chopin 1).” This example focuses on the verisimilitude, or the holding of a mirror up to reality, present in Realism. After all, many people would break the news of a death of a loved to a family member. Lastly, Chopin believed that real fiction is a reflection of life. The realist principle of verisimilitude of showing the realistic “slice of life” guided Kate Chopin in writing her stories. Kate’s personal self is seen through the character of Mrs. Mallard. Although Kate Chopin was not appreciated for her exceptional literary talent during her lifetime, her use of Realism helps others to the story to their own lives. Kate Chopin is successful in incorporating plot and character development within “The Story of an Hour.” The plot of a story a literary term used to describe the sequence of events that make up a story. Chopin uses the development of characters to better the plot and invite the reader to build an emotional connection to the characters within the story. The plot and character development within “The Story of an Hour” are connected to each other.

The plot is mainly taking place within Mrs. Mallard’s mind. This forces the reader to form a relationship with Mrs. Mallard, as the story is told through her thoughts. In the story, Mrs. Mallard is described having a heart trouble. This is why her sister was very careful in revealing the news of her husband’s death to Mrs. Mallard. It is also told that she is “young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength” (Chopin 1). This information is crucial to understanding why Mrs. Mallard only grieves for her husband for a moment. It is lead to believe that Mrs. Mallard’s marriage was not a healthy one. Mrs. Mallard’s marriage restricted her from expressing herself; rather she lived under her husband’s jurisdiction. She was never allowed to show her true emotions or the strength she had, instead she had to ignore these feelings. The plot also shows that Mrs. Mallard overlooks the freedom she feels after her husband’s death because of her weak characterization. She feels powerless to resist this freedom that is now present in her life. For the first time, Mrs. Mallard feels as if she has a chance at freedom from the life has previously restrained her from true happiness. The combination of character development and the importance of plot in the story is not only seen in Mrs. Mallard, but also in her husband.

Chopin exclaims in her writing, “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. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime…” (Chopin 2). This is the only part of the story that Mr. Mallard’s character is hinted at. This passage, although short, reveals much about Mr. Mallard’s characters. Readers can conclude that he was a very controlling man, who forced his authority over Mrs. Mallard. He did not recognize that he was restraining his wife. The character and plot development present within this story provide readers with the necessary tools to develop to bring this story to life within their imaginations. The use of irony within Chopin’s writing brings an unexpected element of surprise to the plot of the story. There are many examples of Chopin using irony to foreshadow the ending. For instance, an irony is shown in this story is when it is told, “her pulse beat fast, and then the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body” (Chopin 1). It is ironic that blood, which is often the representation of life, was what calmed her and kept her alive; however, at the end Mrs. Mallard dies. Another example of irony is through the prayer that Mrs. Mallard prays.

Readers are told, “she breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 2). This prayer is answered, when she sees Mr. Mallard at the bottom of the stairs; but it is ironic that she immediately had a heart attack that killed her. Lastly, the strong use of irony is seen through the word ‘joy.’ Mrs. Mallard joy is described as “monstrous” when she first discovers the feeling of freedom from her husband (Chopin 1). It is ironic that this joy eventually is what causes Mrs. Mallard’s death. In the last line of the story, the doctors say that Mrs. Mallard died “of heart disease—of joy that kills” (Chopin 2). When Mrs. Mallard sees Mr. Mallard alive she is shocked. It is the knowing that she would never feel the “monstrous joy” she had felt without his restraints on her that causes her death.

Chopin uses irony in this story to focus on the verisimilitude aspect of Realism in showing the reality of Mrs. Mallard’s life. To bring “The Story of an Hour” to life, Chopin uses many metaphors and strong vocabulary that helps to bring the story to life. As discussed, Mrs. Mallard’s heart troubles eventually contribute to her death. Her heart trouble could not only affect her physically, but to a greater extent one that affected her emotionally that resulted from her difficult marriage. Chopin’s careful and strong word choice helps to bring Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts and emotions to life. The metaphor of an open window that is mentioned in the story is important inn understanding the story. The window is not just a part of the setting, but also a “window” into the mind and heart of Mrs. Mallard. This window served the purpose of an entrance to the new life Mrs. Mallard would be living. Kate Chopin uses thoughtful word choice and metaphors to help readers better understand the characters with the story. “The Story of an Hour” took many years for people to recognize the story for its impressive literary talent. Throughout this story, Kate Chopin is able to connect the plot and character, in using irony, strong word choice, and metaphors that bring the characters within the story to life. Without a doubt, Kate Chopin’s upbringing helped to influence her writing and ultimately shaped her ideals as a person. Works Cited

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