The main goal that Kate Chopin wanted to convey in The Story of an Hour is the liberation of a woman from the limited marital role and gender persuasion of the women’s place in the world. According to Yazgi, Kate Chopin has never been an active feminist, but she believed in women’s power, which can go against social norms (147). The Story of an Hour written 1894 was argued by many famous critics of the nineteenth century. Discussions led to the idea that such characters as Louise Mallard must be clearly analyzed to make the story accessible to general reading. Kate Chopin knew how difficult it was to publish work that might not be socially accepted, and she was working hard to achieve the equality that her colleagues could not accomplish.
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Kate Chopin tried to evoke pity in relation to Louise Mallard and make the reader fully imbued with the character’s story to understand the story’s deeper meaning. Aristotle believed that the best way to induce pity is a tragedy, and the main idea of all stories written in Aristotle’s method is oriented on tragedy, not comedy. (Yazgi 148). Even though Louise Mallard was relieved by the death of her husband, the author managed to transform it into tragedy and decrease the number of criticisms for immorality. Chopin’s linguistic talent flourished the effect of the tragedy and allowed this story to be massively spread. After husband’s death, Louise analyzed her life and realized that she was tied by the knot of the marriage and could not show her personality. The realization that a huge part of life was lived under blind love led Louise into kind of depression:
she had loved him — sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love,
the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she
suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being! (Yazgi 149).
In the nineteenth century, when patchy reigned, a woman could not engage in self-affirmation, and husbands always demanded the dependency of wives. When Louise freed herself from her husband’s affection, her thoughts were mixed, and great excitement to start living as an individual person appeared. The search for oneself and realization of freedom struck Louise at first, and the feeling of being lost did not immediately turn into happiness, making the story more tragic. At first, the character was waiting for a new life with fear because she lived under social pressure for a long time, which imposed specific rules. However, later her life filled with “monstrous joy” (Yazgi 150). Staying alone in the room, Louise Mallard awakens new aspects of her personality. She pays attention to little things like trees, air, voices, smells. All these elements give her the understanding that she is unique. Such knowledge of the inner world allows the character to awaken her mind. Louise was pointing out the small details speak of the fact that she has attentiveness and responsiveness to others.
Raising the issue of equality between women and men in the nineteenth century was not extensive. Kate Chopin managed to pass numerous criticism and reviews to give women a chance to compete for their individuality. Chopin’s linguistic talent aroused in readers both a feeling of pity for the character and happiness for swept freedom, making the story of an Hour relevant even these days.
Yazgi, Cihan. “Tragic Elements and Discourse-Time in “The Story of an Hour””. The Explicator, vol. 78, no. 3-4, 2020, pp. 147-152.