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Book Review:The Story of an Hour

Updated on May 9, 2016

Kate Chopin is a known novelist and an author of short stories born on February 8th, 1850. She was recognized as one of the leading writers during her time and also one of the feminist authors in the 20th century. One of her famous story is the short story, “The Story of an Hour” which stars Mrs. Mallad as the main character. Josephine, Mrs. Mallad’s sister and Richard her husband’s friend are cautious when braking the sudden news of her husbands death to her due to her heart condition.

Richard is the first person to learn of Mr. Mallad’s death after he sees his name on the list of those killed in the railroad accident. He takes the responsibility of accompanying Josephine to break the news to Mrs.Mallad who on hearing the newsbreaks down. She then locks herself up in her room and takes time to digest the news.

However, instead of greive, she feels something different, something overwhelming,she is free, free at last and her loving husband was no more. There was sudden joy in her heart although she knew that she would weep again once she saw her husband’s corpse. Josephine comes to the door and begs her to open afraid that she would make herself sick. Mrs. Mallad tells her to go away. After sometime, she open the door, holds her sister and together they walk down the stairs towards Richard. The front door opens unexpectedly and Mr.Mallad walks in. he had not been in the train accident and he infact new nothing about it. Mrs. Mallad collapses on seeing her husband. She is pronounced dead upon doctors arrival who say she died of heart attack brought about by joy.

Mrs Mallad is characterized as delicate due to her heart condition. Her sister Josephine and Richard, her husbands friend, take caution and breaks the news of her husband’s death as gently as they can so that they can not worsen the situation. Her delicate situation is also evident when she collapses and dies after seeing Bretly and knowing that he is infact very alive.

She is also hypocritical. When the news of her husband’s “death” is broken to her, she breaks down infront of her sister and Richard just like any wife would on hearing the sad news. She even goes ahead to lock herself up in her room making her sister worry for her, that the grief would be too much for her, but that was not the case for her, deep down she was happy, happy that he was gone and she could now be free. She says under her breath as she seats staring at the blue sky, “free, free, free!” there was joy in her heart that he was gone and he would never be there to bother her again. She was happy that she would henceforth live only for herself and longed for the years to come that she would by herself, without him in her life. She kept whispering the words, “free, body and soul free!”

Mrs. Mallad can also be described as self- absorbed. After she learns of her husband’s death, she takes time to absorb the news but instead of reminiscising of the good times they had had, she sits and thinks only of herself. She starts visualizing the future, a future where she is free and independent, a future where she is her own boss. She does not take time to mourn her husband who was so tender and loving towards her, instead, she focuses on how good life will be for her henceforth and even prayed for long life.

She is intelligent in the sense that she understands the right way for one to behave especially in such situations. When her sister breaks down the news of her husband’s death,Brently, she lets a dramatic cry, a reaction any person would have upon hearing such news instead of standing there and feeling numb. She knows and understands that she should greive for her husband and probably worry about her future and also knows that she will cry over her husband’s corpse when the time came.

There are elements in the story that lead us to sypmathize with Mrs.Mallad. For instance, the story starts by letting the leader aware of her health condition. Mrs.Mallad has heart problems and is therefore vulnerable to a heart attack hence the reason her sister Josephine had to be careful dropping the bombshell about Bratley’s death so as not to worsen the situation and break her. The fact that she is sickly makes us, the readers to sympathise with her and the tragedy that has befallen her.

Another thing that leads us to sympathise with her is the sudden death of her husband. We all know how one feels after losing a loved one. She has lost her tender and loving husband and now she would be all by herself. There is a moment of sympathy by the reader before we come to learn that on the contrary, she is happy he is gone, happy that she is free and independent again.

We also get to sympathize with her as the story gets to an end. After praying and hoping for a long life, her husband walks in, she collapses and her heart attack gets the better of her. The doctors pronounce her dead and says that the heart attack was because of the joy she felt which as we know was not the case. The long life she had imagined and longed for was not to be, instead, Brently was the one to enjoy that life.

As the story progresses, we learn that Mrs.Mallad indeed experiences a transformation. When the news of her husband’s tragic death is broken to her, she is devastated and cries out loud as she held her sister. She leaves the room and locks herself up so as to have sometime to herself. However, as she sits in an armchair which was in the room and her gaze in the blue sky, she experiences a different feeling, a certain transformation. She was not sad, she was free. Her husband’s death means her life’s transformation, she would be free, free at last. She would be independ again and did not have to answer to anyone, she was indeed a transformed woman from now henceforth.

Mrs. Mallad experiences another transformation when the door opens unexpectedly and her husband Bratley walks in. all her hopes are crushed and the long life she hoped for would not be. Her husband had not been in the accident and had not even heard about it. She was never going to be free, never going to be independent. She collapses and passes on ironically leaving the husband free.

This story, “The Story of an Hour” helps the reader draw certain conclusions about marriage in the 21st century. Mrs.Mallad focuses more of her independence after her husband’s death and does not even take time to mourn him. She even states that she loved him but sometimes. This is the same case applying in the 21st century. Most people are getting married yes, but some do not get married out of love. It is not suprising to find someone nowadays getting married for wealth or possessions instead of love.

Again, more people are so focused on their own independence. Most women are now working to be able to sustain themselves without having to rely on any one in their lives. Very few marriages today are based purely on love and this has since led to the numerous divorces and separations making it difficult to build a family.

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