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Feminism in Kate Chopin’s Book “The Story of an Hour”

Introduction

“The Story of an Hour” is filled with twists, turns, and captures the reader’s attention from the on-set. Kate Chopin goes on to show that women at the time lived for their husbands and they existed solely to fulfil their husbands’ dreams. Twenty-first century critics would find a lot to appreciate of Kate Chopin’s story.

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To begin with, the story shows quite some bit of patriarchy which is demonstrated by the fact that men’s will was imposed on women. This is shown by the way Mrs.Mallard utters words of freedom when she thinks her husband is dead and this therefore depicts that she was oppressed in some way and she felt that she needed some freedom, which was to be experienced only when the husband died. Though the husband seemed to love her, she still felt that she needed to live her life and pursue her own goals as is the nature of any ambitious woman. Unfortunately in those days, most women had accepted the status quo and they supported their husbands, and when their husbands excelled, they were supposed to share in the joy. For those women who had a problem with this kind of setting, as Mrs.Mallard did, they suffered in silence and could only wish their husbands would die for them to experience the freedom that they desired.

Kate Chopin goes on to show the extent of loss of freedom that came with marriage by the way she says that Mrs.Mallard had thought life as too long the previous day but with the news of the husband’s death she made a prayer that life might be long so that she could enjoy the days ahead alone. This shows that Mrs.Mallard felt trapped in her marriage, though we are told she was young. It seems that she had longed for a time when she would be free and live her own life but this seemed to be very elusive and this got her depressed.

Josephine and Richard treated Mrs.Mallard as any society would do, thinking that a woman cannot continue living her life because her husband was dead. They actually thought that the news would kill her but deep inside Louise had found freedom that she could not express to all around her because they could not understand why she felt her husband’s death was a blessing in disguise.

Feminist critics would definitely find this story to be very supportive of what they advocate for. Kate Chopin’s style of writing and use of imagery depicts the feelings of her main character and shows her transformation in a very interesting and surprising way. First Louise is introduced as a woman who is grieving for the loss of her husband but after careful thought in solitude she emerges from her room as a ‘goddess of Victory’, a term that should not be used to describe the state of a supposed ‘widow’. She then dies of ‘the joy that kills’ when she sees her husband. Louise definitely had envisioned a life full of freedom but that seemed to be so short-lived and she could not take it any more.

Conclusion

Kate Chopin’s choice of a main character as a woman who is yearning for freedom goes a long way in showing that women desire to have a life of their own and not merely live for someone else. The story shows the extremes of lack of freedom and in this case it was so intense that Louise ended up dying by the very sight of her husband. She needed that freedom so much that the mere appearance of her husband, who was the source of her lack of freedom, killed her.

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StudyCorgi. "Feminism in Kate Chopin’s Book “The Story of an Hour”." December 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/feminism-in-kate-chopins-book-the-story-of-an-hour/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Feminism in Kate Chopin’s Book “The Story of an Hour”." December 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/feminism-in-kate-chopins-book-the-story-of-an-hour/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Feminism in Kate Chopin’s Book “The Story of an Hour”'. 22 December.

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