Introduction to “The Story of an Hour” Essay Example

Introduction to “The Story of an Hour” Essay Example
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Ladies and Gentlemen, the short story “The Story of an Hour” was written by Kate Chopin, a forward thinking woman all the way back in April 19, 1894. The story which was originally titled “The Dream of an Hour” was first published in Vogue Magazine on December 6 of the same year with a reprint of the same published by St. Louis Life on January 5 of the next year.

In order to understand why this particular short story became highly controversial when it was first published, one had to first become aware of the fact that back during the 1800’s, there was no such thing as woman’s rights. Rather, women were stifled in all areas of their lives. Their thoughts had to be the same thoughts as their husbands, their will the same as their male partners, personal opinions did not matter as the woman did not have the right to voice out any opinion other than what her husband allowed her to opine based his own opinion at that. In other words, women were captives during this era. Enslaved by the men due to the traditions of the era. The only freedom that women back then could feel and actually experience for themselves came from the possibility that their husbands would die before them and thus allow them a pocket of time as free thinking individuals before they needed to submit to another man who would take care of them.
It was this notion, that a woman would actually feel relief and liberation rather than sadness and loss at the news of her husbands demise that made The Story of an Hour unpublishable in its original form. By rewriting the ending in order to have the female protagonist die, the story became more acceptable for publication during its time.

The story of an hour is rather cruel when it comes to the portrayal of married life in the 18th century. What with marriage being portrayed as a prison from which a woman has no escape and her husband the warden of her fate. That is more likely the reason why this particular story follows such an ironically detached and melancholic tone. Freedom for Louis Mallard in the story meant having her husband die. By doing so society then allows her to experience freedom and independence even though she would forever be known as the widow of Mr. Mallard.

It is from this joyful thought that Mrs. Mallard actually derives her tears and emotions from. An action which was misread by her relatives and those around her as distraught emotions and longing for her now dead husband. Rather, she is celebrating her legalized freedom to become the person whom she wished she could be. This is an emotion that would have been considered strange at the time, once again due to the traditions and expectations of women that were set in place by society.

The sudden death that is described in vivid, lifelike detail at the end of the story was believed by medical professionals at the time to have been caused by the extreme joy of seeing her supposedly dead husband alive and well. In reality, the woman, upon closer analysis of her situation, died from a broken heart. She died from the effects of extreme sadness caused by the realization that her freedom was only a fleeting thought, a fanciful emotion that would never truly be realized because her shackles were once again clamped upon her by the return of her husband.

It is this short and bittersweet journey that provides us with a glimpse into the almost silent married existence and life of a 19th century married woman. Thus allowing us to experience the story of a sentimental woman whose rights and individuality would never be acknowledged because of the mans world that she lived in. This story, is proof that there was indeed a pocket of time in history, when women were actually the living dead in a manner of speaking, because society did not allow them to achieve their fullest potential in any way, shape or form.

My dear audience, I now give you “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin.

Works Cited
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. vcu.edu, n.d. Web. 12 April 2012.