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The Freedom of Death

The struggle between love and war is never ending. While one may have love, however war within that love can still exist, and vice versa. Women, being more emotional than men (usually), tend to put their emotions out there for the public either to accept or reject; not until recently have women’s emotions been more welcomed. Kate Chopin wrote a very intense piece which dealt with a woman’s pure, raw emotion, and she received much criticism for it. Taking a look at her piece, “The Story of an Hour,” we can see how Chopin expresses such raw emotions and why she received the criticism that she did.

Men and women have never been viewed as equals, especially during Chopin’s lifetime (18 -104). Men were seen as the stability in the relationship and women were to be subservient to their men and this was not to be any other way. What Chopin does in this piece is she throws the rules out the window and expresses through her writing how women may truly feel if her husband happens to pass a sense of freedom and self-discovery. In this story, Louise is going through a large transition in her life and her way of thinking. While mourning the loss of her husband, Louise arrives at a new, life-altering awareness “There would be no one to live for her during those coming years she would live for herself” (147). This quote expresses the suppression that Louise was feeling in the past, but now has come to the realization that she is now her own person, with the ability to think and act for herself.

After reading this short story critics could not bear or comprehend the thought of a woman (living at that time) without a man. They also could not grasp the idea of a lady expressing thoughts of freedom and exuberance after the death of her husband. She was to mourn the loss of him, until another man could fulfill the void that was left. Chopin received much disapproval for “The Story of an Hour”, and it is apparent that readers could not handle this new way of writing or thinking

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What affronted the genteel readers of the 180s was Chopin’s attempt to write frankly about women’s emotions in their relations with men, children, and their own sexuality. (141)

Up until Chopin, readers were comfortable with romantic stories, or stories that ended happily, not a story that deals with life and death, and everything in between. Not everyone enjoys change, but without stories and ideas like Chopin’s, people would not embrace the thoughts and suggestions portrayed by her and would not realize that it is okay to think this way.

Chopin’s piece “Story of an Hour” is a prime example of a love and war theme. Mrs. Mallard possesses a great love for her husband Bently, and not until she receives word of her husband’s death, does the war inside her appear. For years Louise Mallard did nothing but exude love for Bently, but in the moments of despair and loss she questions their love, and her fear of being alone

as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination. And yet she had loved him � sometimes. Often she did not. What did it matter! What could love the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of being! (147)

Here is where the battle of love and war is shown, but it is a battle within Louise’s own mind. She did love Bently, yes, but his restraints upon her own decision making kept her emotions pent up inside. Now that Bently is “dead”, she has regained life and is feeling a sense of empowerment. Louise is no longer confined to a man. Experiencing these new emotions and feelings is the very turning point in Louises life. “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (147). This segment leads into the irony of the piece, and maybe most shocking bit, the ending. After feeling as though her life is just beginning, it ends. In the beginning of the piece there is a fear that the news of Louise’s husband’s death will kill her but, it is actually the knowledge and vision of her husbands being which ends her new found love for life, for good. Although pure and honest, the emotion that Chopin displays in “The Story of an Hour” was not something that was accepted in the late 1800’s and this behavior and creativity was actually very much frowned upon.

The struggles which Louise is feeling are true of what women everywhere would feel in a situation like her own, living everyday in a relationship in which there was learned love and a force of habit. Louise did love her husband, or so she thought, and unfortunately, it is the thought of his death that helped her envision a life to live for herself and not someone else living it for her, with her being in the background. Chopin does an incredibly wonderful job with expressing Louise’s point-of-view throughout the entire piece. Her style of writing, the language she using, and her tone all help the reader feel like they, themselves, are Mrs. Mallard. Although receiving a not-so-positive response, today “The Story of an Hour”, can be, and is, very much accepted and appreciated for its entirety.

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Literature and It’s Writers. nd edition. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston Bedford/St. Martins, 1. 141-147.

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