The Story of One Hour by Kate Chopin

The Story of One Hour by Kate Chopin was first published in 1894. Kate started writing fiction in 1889 and was known for her feminist views in her books. The short story focuses on one hour in the life of Louise Mallard during the times of the Victorian Society. The story starts when Louise’s sister Josephine tells Louise about the death of her husband Brently in a train accident, and the events that follow. Louise is a woman with a bad heart, and dies when she finds out her husband is still alive despite being told that he had died in an accident (Chopin 5).

The author shocks readers at the end of the short story and creates a debate on why Louise died. Did Louise die of a heart attack because of her short lived joy and excitement when she believed her husband was dead?  The tone of the story changes drastically from sorrow to joy and to sometimes being ironic or cynical. Louise is told by her sister that her husband has died in a train accident. The sister and Richards are carefully about how they break the news due to Louise’s heart condition because the bad news may kill her. The tone of the story is one of sorrow as Louise cries in her sister’s arms. When she returns to her room, she takes time to think about what the death of her husband means. Suddenly she starts to see life from a different perspective from the one she is living.

Louise has never imagined life without her husband and does not believe that is even a possibility. In Victorian Society, women belonged to men, where they were weak and helpless. Women could not survive without their husbands or fathers. The tone of the story changes when Louise suddenly realizes she is free and independent. She no longer belongs to her husband. This thought gets her excited as she desperately tries to fight the feeling of joy. She tries to fight this because feeling this amount of joy and excitement was forbidden in society. Suddenly she acknowledges all the excitement and joy of freedom and start acting like she is possessed. She sees her life different, free full of hope and she unexpectedly utters the word free. She says it over and over again in disbelief.  She becomes overwhelmed and begins to praying hoping this feeling will last forever.

The tone of the story suddenly changes to shock when Brently returns and just as quickly as it came, takes away her independence. The dramatic change of losing her freedom, joy and happiness kills her. It is obvious that Louise was oppressed in her marriage even though she acknowledges that her husband was a kind man who loved her very much. Despite this, she feels joy when she is told that he is dead. His death releases her from her oppression. However sadly, this is short lived when her husband comes back and she suddenly dies. The short story is full of drama and is ironical. The story shows how something drastic can change somebody’s life. Louise was an oppressed woman whose whole life suddenly changed with joy and hope due to her husband’s death. The story is also subtle and yet cruel. The impact of the story is powerful especially at the end when Louise’s husband Brently returns. Overall the story is able to depict different emotions over one hour of someone’s life and how one event can change someone’s life completely.


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