ISC The story of an hour : Theme of Repressive Nature of Marriage And Female Self Discovery


 The story of an Hour : Theme

Question: What are the main themes of “The story of an Hour” ?

 Answer : The main theme of “The story of an Hour” are – female self discovery and identity and also the repressive nature of marriage.

  • Self discovery and identity – 
Kate Chopin’s ‘The story of an Hour’ is based on the theme of female self discovery and identity. When Mrs. Mallard first got to know about her husband’s death she wept violently with grief. But when she was alone in her room, she began to feel an unknown sense of freedom and relief.  At first she was frightened of her new insight – 
“There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it fearfully” 

 This fear shows her lack of confidence that whether could she be able to hold the freedom for which she was longed. 
      When she abandoned herself a  little whisper came out of her lips –
“Free, free ,free !”

 The repeatation of the word free indicates that she was always yearned for this freedom.  
    She could feel the freedom to have control over her own life. She began to imagine her life without her husband, and could enjoy the visions of her future.
” There would be no one to live for her during those coming years.” 

         This feeling  brought her the feeling of independence and self control over her own life. She was now filled with confidence. 
  “There would be no powerful will bending hers”.

Although she loved her husband – sometimes, often she had not. But her love for her husband Brently has become meaningless  when  compared to her “self  assertion which she  suddenly recognised as the strongest impulse of her being ! ” 

      Louise recognised the idea of attaining selfhood and identity as a woman. She has now changed into a new, independent and confident woman – 
” There was a feverish triumph in her eyes and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. ” 

     The possession of new identity and self assertion was so strong a 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 have to submit her will to his. 
  • Repressive nature of marriage – 

         Another important theme of the story is the repressive nature of conventional marriage in late nineteenth century. 
        At the beginning of the story Chopin presented Mrs. Mallard as a wife. Her own identity as a woman was missing . 
   Similarly, very little is said about her relation with her husband, even Louise was unsure whether or not they had been happily married .  And also it was not clear whether she had loved Brently or not – 
 “And yet she had loved him – sometimes . often she had not. What did it matters !”

      When Louise was alone in her room her feeling of joy and freedom on imagining her life without her husband indicates that she was not happy in her marriage. It is her joy at her husband’s death,  that make the readers realise the confinement she was in. She feels released from the clutches of matrimony.
        Brently forced his will upon Louise, denying her the freedom to be  who she really was.  Brently, therefore loved the social image of a dutiful wife , but he did not love the real Louise .
         The story argues that imposing a “private will upon a fellow creature” no matter how kindly the intention “is no less a crime”. 

      It does not seem like love ,but this put the institution of marriage down into a quest. 
       Chopin seems to be making a comment on nineteenth – Century marriages , which granted the men the right to own and dominate the women .

1 thought on “ISC The story of an hour : Theme of Repressive Nature of Marriage And Female Self Discovery”

  1. I found this article very interesting while working on a task at on themes present in the story "The story of an hour" I have subscribed so that i can get your next article.

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