ISC The story of an Hour question answers : A Symbolic of Modern Feminism


The Story of an Hour’: as a symbolic of Modern Feminism

Question : Do you think that the short story by Kate Chopin “The Story of an Hour” is symbolic of modern feminism? Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer : Feminism is a movement carried out at social, cultural and political levels to establish and provide equal rights and protection for social equality of gender.

      Kate Chopin is acknowledged for initiating the modern feminist movement in late nineteenth century. Her stories were revolved around the lives of sensitive and daring women of late nineteenth century. She tries to capture the hardships and struggle of women and this way their condition and status in society. She is considered far ahead of her time due to her radical views against the patriarchal society.

     Chopin portrayed women as oppressed and maltreated by the society. Women were dominated by their husbands and forced to live the life controlled by their husbands. Husband’s were independent and like rulers while wives were considered as slaves. In a marriage, wives were treated as inferior, with no free will and had to act upon their husbands orders.

   In “The story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin the protagonist Louise Mallard is portrayed as s typical American wife at the beginning of the story but after getting the news of her husband’s death in an accident, she behaved differently because she felt free and independent from the constraints.

        Chopin deconstructed the view of a typical wife by portraying Louise Mallard’s different response to her husband’s death.

     The story shows how married women were not happy in their married life and were dependent upon their husbands. This reflects how women were struggling hard to find their identity. The story perfectly depicts the feelings of a wife in the late nineteenth century.

     ‘The Story of an Hour’ is a story of a woman who was suffering from heart disease. The woman – Mrs. Mallard was confined in an unhappy marriage and unable to free herself  from her relationship with Brently Mallard, she endured it.

      At the news of her husband’s death, though she cried “at once with sudden , wild abandonment” but not for a moment she wanted him back.

    The main character is known in the beginning of the story only as a wife – Mrs. Mallard as she didn’t have her own identity, she was known as Mrs. Mallard. As soon as she learned of Brently’s death , she became “Louise” , a woman aware of her own desires, who had control over her life.

       When Mrs. Mallard was alone in her room, she felt that
“There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it fearfully “. She was so repressed in her marriage that the thought of being free made her fearful.

     Soon she recognised it but scared to admit it. She quickly found peace , joy and relaxed while she kept whispering ” free, free, free!” .

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

      She was looking forward to the years of independent freedom and are yet to come. And she welcomed them.

      In those coming years ” she would live for herself “. She has lived a life that has given her limitations.

       She has forced herself to submit to the will of her husband because society expects such behaviour. But with her husband’s death ” there would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistance “,which believed in imposing a private will upon other one .

     The sense of freedom brought her self assertion and a new identity. Although she had loved him sometimes but this love is meaningless when compared to her self assertion and newly found  freedom.

       When Louise felt free from the shadow of her husband she appear a totally different woman ” she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory”. 

    This way the freedom brought her to independence and self confidence which led her to discover her true identity as a woman.

    It was such a strong force that when she realised  that her husband was alive, she immediately collapsed. Chopin suggests that Louise  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.


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