Tag Archives: “The Story of An Hour”
This short story was very interesting especially when you take in consideration when it was written. To be a woman and to write a story such as this and have it published for the public to see is amazing during this time period. In 1894 women were still expected to get married and bare children. They were also expected to cook, clean and bring up the children. Working women were rare as well as women who did not marry.
Mrs. Mallard is described as “young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression”. This statement makes it seem like she is in a marriage that was not her choice and to an older man. She goes on to say that had loved him but only sometimes. She seems to feel for him but she does not feel like she is living her life. Most women during this time period did not choose who they married. Their family and society expected them to marry certain men.
“A kind intention or cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination”. This statement reveals that Mrs. Mallard had never thought about how men were considered dominate over women and how she was expected to marry. I wonder how many women in the 1800-1900’s actually felt this way or even thought about it. It was the norm for women to marry even when they were not in love.
In today’s society marriage is not expected. Some people live together their entire lives without marrying while others marry more than once. Marriage is about love in today’s society and marrying someone of your choice. It is interesting how much society’s views on marriage had changed and still are changing. It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future.
A few weeks ago we discussed the definition of the sublime as we read Frankenstein. Although the circumstances for the sublime were different in Frankenstein where it focused on the beauty of nature, I believe Mrs. Mallard experienced a sublime through her feelings and emotions as she came to the realization freedom was finally hers.
According to dictionary.com one of the definitions of the sublime is, “2. Inspiring deep veneration, awe, or uplifting emotion because of it’s beauty, nobility, grandeur, or immensity.”
Mrs. Mallard experienced many feelings of awe as the thought of her freedom slowly crept into her. A paragraph that stood out to me was the first paragraph on the second page. The phrase “monstrous joy” reminded me of “awful majesty” from Frankenstein. As the paragraph goes on to state that she will feel sadness again as she sees her dead husband, but she will be okay because she has a life ahead of her that she can live as she pleases. How exciting is that? The last sentence goes on to say, “And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome,” makes me believe she is ready to take on what the future has to hold as an independent woman for the first time.
This story was interesting in many ways. When I first read the story, I was pretty shocked the wife, Louise, was not as devastated as most people would be if they found out their husband had died. A line that really stuck out to me was “And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not. ” This made me wonder why Louise did not love her husband. What went wrong with Louise and her husband that made her seem to dislike him?
The discussion in class today helped me tie the loose ends together. We discussed how she said “Free! Body and soul free.” Louise clearly felt confined in this marriage which would explain her unhappiness. Another line that caught my attention was “Go away. I am not making myself ill. No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.” The key word in that sentence is the open window. Typically you can see outside a window if it were opened or closed, but the author felt the need to state the window was open. This signifies the opportunities Louise sees for her life now. She is not “closed” in anymore, and opportunities she has are endless. She can do anything she wants now and is taking in all the great things of life, like the nature outside.
I found the end of the story a little bizarre because Louise seemed to be happy to be newly widowed but her husband actually comes back, unharmed. Everything Louise was just thrilled about came to a crashing halt, and she eventually dies because of it.
“The Story of An Hour” was definitely an emotional rollercoaster ride. When first hearing of Louise’s loss, I felt very sympathetic for her. I was a little thrown off by Louise’s reaction, though, when she “did not hear the story [of her husband’s death] as many women have.” It was at this point that I began questioning Louise’s relationship with her husband. I found it quite odd that she only suffered a brief “storm of grief;” I imagined the tremendously prolonged fit of grief that I would suffer if I was in her position. As she sat in her armchair, peering outside, she noticed all of the beautiful things going on: “new spring life…the delicious breath of rain in the air…and patches of blue sky.” Once again, I found it pretty odd that this woman was so optimistic after just learning of her husband’s death.
There was a point at which I began to resent Louise, when she boasted about the “freedom” that she had attained by the death of her husband. But instead of resenting the woman, I actually began to sympathize with her again, as I did in the beginning of the story. Louise and her husband were barely in love and it sounded like he was the “alpha dog” type of husband, living to control his wife rather than to coexist with her. I also did some research into the typical day of a housewife in the late 1800’s and my understanding of Louise’s cheerfulness grew even more. The typical housewife in those times spent her entire day carrying out tasks such as: cooking on coal/wood-burning stoves, keeping the furnace-fire warm, scrubbing soot-stained walls and floors, and hand-washing laundry. After getting a sense of Louise’s responsibilities as a housewife, I was happy that she was finally “Free! Body and soul.” And when Louise died from the shock of finding her husband still alive, I was still happy for her because she was ‘free.’