Menu

The Story of an Hour

0 Comment

As Bertrand Russell in his own time very eloquently said, one should not fear to be eccentric in opinion as every opinion accepted today was once eccentric. Can Chopin be said to be a little early with her ideas Did she know that this particular work of hers would not be accorded the deserved attention for another six decades after she wrote it To answer these questions this discussion will proceed first by identifying the ideas within the work itself and how they corresponded with the awakening voice of dissent during that time. It would then be discussed whether Chopin’s own personal experiences had anything to do with "The Story of an Hour".
One cursory perusal of the story would reveal that Mrs. Mallard-the central character as she might be called-is torn between grief at the death of her husband and elation at being free. This is so at least initially before she seems to be overpowered with elation as the reality of what has happened starts to sink in. Of the many key points that might be extracted from the story these would be significant: A healthy marriage was something to be cherished. it might be considered dishonorable to be divorced or without a husband. it was generally accepted that wives needed the protection of their husbands. love between husband and wife was not a necessity but a working and functioning relationship certainly was.
All of these factors can be seen to be deeply ingrained societal values towards the end of the nineteenth century. This was a time when the second wave of the feminist movement was building up, the first having recently subsided. This was when the beliefs on origins of life and the truth of religion were beginning to be shaken. From the more educated and sometimes aristocratic circles and avalanche of writings would spring up that would register the frustration of people who seemed to ‘know better’ since they had discovered the ‘truth’. From the less privileged quarters there was often resignation and a quite, private, personal disbelief that sometimes caused the utterance of a comment or two.
The issue was that hardly any dissenting voice was feminine, not because women found nothing to disagree with, but because they had not empowered themselves for the task. "The Story of an Hour" can be said to be the product of such circumstances, written to express the indecision of a woman who wanted to explore bigger horizons but who conventionally had little to complain about in life. Indeed this seems to be the main theme of the story, whereby Mrs. Mallard was expected to be suicidal at the news of her husband’s death. This resonates clearly from the start of the story where the news is carefully broken to her due to her heart disease and later when she is asked to unlock the room for her own safety. What nobody seems to realize is how Mrs. Mallard might actually welcome the fact that her husband is no longer around. Indeed even today, the very thought might seem morbid and Mrs. Mallard can be clearly seen to be fighting off the thought so she can grieve like a dutiful wife. However, morbid it may not be when coming from the pen of the author who sees more than just a working marriage relationship and a protective and often loving husband.
The author saw everything from unequal pay and voting rights to the general sub ordinance a woman was expected to go