ISC echoes The story of an Hour – workbook answers: Aptness of the Title


The story of an Hour – appropriateness of the Title

Question : Discuss the appropriateness of the title of Kate Chopin short story ‘The story of an Hour’.

Answer: The title of the story ‘The story of an Hour’ is appropriate and significant as it reveals the life changing events of Mrs. Mallard’s life that took place in just one hour.

    Chopin explores the entire range of Mrs. Mallard  emotions, anxieties and feelings and psyche from the moment she hears of her husband’s death to his eventual reappearance.

    It is the story of the hour following the news of her husband’s death, that Mrs. Mallard revealed her lost freedom, self assertion and her own self. Within this one hour, she felt what she has never felt before. This particular one hour gives her what she always yearned for – freedom. Those specific sixty minutes transformed her from a weak woman to a strong woman who has her own will and control over her life. This extended her vision of her life.

     At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mallard is given the news that her husband is dead in a railroad accident.

      At this news Louise Mallard cried “at once, with sudden, wild abandonment”. When she was alone in her room, she thought about her life without her husband. She realised that
” there was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully “.

         On recognising it, she tried to suppress the feeling as she was bound to the social norms. But the feeling was so strong that it could not be suppressed by her powerless will.
 ” When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: ” free, free,free!” 

        She thought about the new life, free from the domination of her controlling husband.

     The bitter moment of her husband’s death made her see “a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely.” 

       She recognised her identity and self assertion, she became “Louise” a woman aware of her own desires, from the confines of marriage.

      “She would live for herself”. There would be no one who will bend her will and impose his ” private will” upon her.

      This fact enlighten her innerself. Although she loved him sometimes but her love for her husband and his love for her is is meaningless when compared to her “self assertion which she suddenly recognised as the strongest impulse of her being !” 

     She kept whispering  “Free ! Body and soul free!” 

      This possession of self assertion transformed her into a new woman full of life and confidence.

    The force was such a strong force that when she realised that her husband was alive, she immediately collapsed. Louise actually could not bear to abandon her new found freedom and return to life with her husband , where she would be required to bend her will to his.

      The title is both apt and suggestive – in one hour, her freedom has been won and lost.

     “The story of an Hour” is the story of numerous women who silently bear the domination and entrapment in their marriage but whose escapes could be short – lived at best.

       In this one hour, Mrs. Mallard learns to carry “herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” and at the end of the same hour, her hopes are shattered with her husband’s return.

      She has become a subservient wife. The one hour, thus becomes most important time in her life, as it not only built her dreams, gave her freedom, self confidence and control over her life but rendered her devastated. Her husband’s return destroyed her dreams and finally killed her.

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