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Kate Chopin was a courageous writer who broke many conventional societal norms in her works, she expressed her feelings towards women’s attitudes to relationships with men, kids and sexuality. In “The Story of an Hour” Chopin displays her feminist views on marriage and the feelings associated with it through the key heroine, Mrs. Mallard. At the outset of the story, Mrs. Mallard is informed that her husband has passed away in a train crash. Upon receiving the terrible truth, “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms”. As the plot further developed, however, the opposite happened. Kate Chopin demonstrates her feminist beliefs in “The Story of an Hour” by the actions and emotions conveyed by the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard, in connection with the death of her husband, as well as expressing her personal perspective on the relationship between a woman and a man.
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How Kate Chopin portrayed feminist beliefs in “The Story of an Hour”
Chopin is renowned for her insights into the hidden lives of women in the 1890s and early 19th century. It involved the dimensions of their spirituality, as well as the difficulties and tensions that women faced in relationships. Mrs. Mallard portrays Chopin’s convictions about feminism, gaining new freedom after the death of her husband. Chopin notes: “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with a private will upon a fellow-creature”. She refers to such phrases to reveal that at this time, men were often considered more important than women, and it was thought that they had the authority to oversee every facet of women’s lives.
For a moment, Mrs. Mallard realizes that her husband will never be here. Mrs. Mallard walks into the empty room and takes a seat in a chair, forbidding others to enter. “She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams”. The observer understands that Mrs. Mallard is mourning for her husband, but the situation gradually begins to evolve. Being alone in the room, the woman begins to ponder about her marriage and the atmosphere turns from sorrowful to more and more joyful. Her husband is dead, but she is not frightened to be alone. Mrs. Mallard sits in her chair and experiences an unfamiliar but exhilarating sense of peace that she begins to feel as she reflects on her husband’s death. Realizing that she is now a widow, Mrs. Mallard no longer has to be her husband’s shadow; she is completely liberated to be Louise.
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Undoubtedly, Mrs. Mallard felt love for her husband. Even Chopin remarks: “And yet she loved him — sometimes”. However, Mrs. Mallard’s love was not so deep and tremendous. Considering Chopin’s views, we can conclude that Mrs. Mallard lost the feeling that her husband regarded her as a house servant. She no further wished to be a slave to the traditional social expectations of a proper wife. Through introspection, she may have had guilt for feeling released from her husband because of his death. While she still harbored a slight amount of love for her gone husband, the independence she received with his death was far more valuable to her than keeping those sentiments of love and the abrupt loss she experienced.
By the story’s end, Mrs. Mallard falls to her death. Some may believe that this was an element of her newfound freedom. The doctors, however, say that “she died of heart disease — of joy that kills”. Clearly, though, the woman died as soon as she learned that her husband had survived the train crash. She realizes that she is no more “free, free, free”. Kate Chopin’s aim was to expose her feminist opinions on marriage. Mrs. Mallard enjoyed the pleasant taste of freedom, but it abruptly fled her. In this way Chopin tries to establish the distinction between singleness and marriage at the time when the story was written and how it concerned women and their feelings.
Mrs. Mallard was afflicted by the fact that all her life she felt like a captive, tied down by marriage. When her husband passed away, she felt that the shackles had fallen off her and experienced newfound freedom. Her independence, though, was short-lived when she found out that her husband was actually not dead. Kate Chopin made use of this example to highlight how marriage in the 1800s to the early 19th century affected women’s emotions. She accomplished this in a striking way, provoking the audience to reflect on what indeed happened to Mrs. Mallard at the end of the story. It is conceivable she died of a heart attack, or maybe the idea of needing to sacrifice the tremendous freedom she had obtained became unbearable for her and her soul could not withstand the loss.