The Story of an Hour was written in 1894 by a controversial and outstanding author Kate Chopin. She faced criticism for her ground-breaking stories that showed the unpleasant truths of how unjust the world could be. The writer was constrained by traditional feminine roles until she was widowed at the age of 32 and had to take care of 6 children. Her biography slightly resembles the story of Louise Mallard, who was also processing the alleged death of a husband. In Chopin’s work, Mrs. Mallard had to realize her life was going to change drastically. Furthermore, the story focuses on this exact reflection on the chance of living freely with no authorities or weighing responsibilities. Undoubtedly, this literary piece significantly influenced the early feminist discourse in the beginning of the nineteenth century.
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To begin with, in The Story of an Hour, the protagonist Mrs. Mallard understands all the advantages of her unexpectedly free life while dealing with the grief. Even though Mr. Mallard “had never looked save with love upon her,” she still felt rather repressed and manipulated in their household (Chopin, 1981, p. 2). During the late nineteenth century, women were the furthest from autonomous – they could not own property, vote, or make independent decisions. Therefore, the author does not show an ungrateful or unloving wife. Chopin simply demonstrates the struggles wives had to go through to be a good partner under patriarchy. Moreover, in her story, people thought Louise Mallard died out of joy of seeing her husband alive, which makes the end ironic. The reality behind the protagonist’s death is that she could not handle the thought of continuing living her life in constant oppression by the patriarch.
To sum up, Kate Chopin’s literary piece definitely helped the feminist movement to make women less oppressed and abused by sexist gender stereotypes. The Story of an Hour shed light on the major problems of a patriarchal family. The writer had to face judgment because her progressive ideas were way ahead of time; therefore, she was considered a forerunner to the feminist writing of the twentieth century.
Chopin, K. (1981). The story of an hour. Jimcin Recordings.