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"Story of an Hour": Why did the author choose to have the main character die and then...

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lolaray | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 9, 2008 at 7:35 PM via web

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"Story of an Hour": Why did the author choose to have the main character die and then end the story?

"Story of an Hour": Why did the author choose to have the main character die and then end the story?

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rowens | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted June 9, 2008 at 8:10 PM (Answer #2)

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That's an interesting question, and one I am not sure I can completely answer, since I can't go back and ask Kate Chopin myself.

I think the biggest clue as to why Louise Mallard had to die lies in one of the major themes addressed in this short work: the treatment of women as inferior to men.

In the story, Louise, who has heart trouble (which if read carefully could indicate not only a physical illness, but an emotional trouble), has just learned that her husband is dead. She is moved to tears at first, but soon realizes, in the privacy of her OWN room that she is finally "free--body and soul free."

As much as she loved Brently and her loved her, she always felt trapped. She even says that just the day before she dreaded a long life. Now she looks forward to a long life, because now it is her life. She can now make her own decisions and live the way she wants, not under the authority of a man, as society in the Victorian period insisted that she do.

So, when she realizes that her dream of independence is shattered, she dies. Ironically, no one gets it--they think she was overjoyed.

I think that Chopin chose to make Louise die to illustrate just how desperate women during this time felt. Had she not reacted so dramatically, the story would have less impact. People would think she could get over this, and that she wasn't all that bad off.

For more information about this story, check the link below:

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 10, 2008 at 12:31 PM (Answer #3)

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Only the author can tell you why she ended the story the way she did. One word describes the ending: ironic. Maybe Chopin was trying her hand at morbid humor with the ironic ending.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted June 11, 2008 at 7:31 PM (Answer #4)

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Irony, irony, irony.  Chopin uses irony quite a bit in her stories.  The irony in this particular story is very powerful and very evident.  I believe Chopin enjoyed surprising her readers, as well.  She was a strong-willed woman who had very strong views about women's roles in society, sexuality, and marriage. She wrote about things she felt very strongly about. 

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 20, 2008 at 4:33 PM (Answer #5)

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"Story of an Hour": Why did the author choose to have the main character die and then end the story?

"Story of an Hour": Why did the author choose to have the main character die and then end the story?

  In my view, the author ended the story with this twist because she was making a statement about a woman's right to individual freedom and choice.  

Mrs. Mallard, whose existence has been dominated by her husband, experiences a brief period of total contentment and joy when she imagines the life ahead of her. She kept repeating to herself that she was free in both body and soul.

Mrs. Mallard was more content in that brief period between when she was told that her husband was dead and when her husband comes walking through the front door, than she had been in her entire marriage. 

Maybe Kate Chopin, who did not remarry after her husband's death, needs to enlighten the reader on how a woman can thrive and be happy alone, without a husband.  

Kate Chopin explored radical ideas, for her time, 1851-1904, in her writing.  She believed in a woman's right to search for independence and fulfillment, something that she allows Mrs. Mallard to feel for a brief moment before she dies.       

To have Mrs. Mallard go back to her husband after she has imagined a life of joyful solitude would be an injustice to the character.  She has her die rather than face another day of confinement. 

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted August 12, 2008 at 6:44 PM (Answer #6)

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One of the most obscure ironies in the story lies within the very concept of the "hour" itself.  When we think of an hour we understand that the clock has gone a full circle. It is an interesting notion to make the analogy between the the full circle of an hour and Mrs. Mallard's life.I think it is possible that Chopin viewed Mrs. Mallard in this manner.  Before Mrs. Mallard was given the news of her husband's death it can be argued that she was already "dead". Most women in the ninetenth century had little or no identity other than how they were connected to their male counterparts. Her husband's death in essence gives her life, and as the hour came to a close she finds herself exactly where she was at the beginning of the hour.  Chopin has Mrs. Mallard die at the end of the story to emphasize the true state of Mrs. Mallard's being.

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted August 12, 2008 at 7:01 PM (Answer #7)

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I think she has to die at the end of the story.  In this hour we see an entire life cycle.  A woman who is caught in a male dominated marriage is freed when her husband "dies"; at that moment a new being is created, free of male dominance, free to live her own life.  Ironically, his death is a necessary condition for her new life.  When her husband is found to be alive, the new woman has lost the necessary condition for her existence; death is inevitable.  It is interesting that this takes place in an hour, a single perfect cycle.  There is one chance to make this new life happen, and when it doesn't, the cycle is complete.  The story is about hope; when there is no more hope, there is no more story.

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yhama-lee | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 26, 2008 at 7:19 PM (Answer #8)

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in reply to question #1.Maybe Kate Chopin intended to end her tragic story into that way because mrs.mallard was disappointed that his husband was still alive. She lost hope when she saw her husband alive,"freedom failed to cross her life.

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pakman1 | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 25, 2008 at 7:52 AM (Answer #9)

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HEY

I have to find story of an hour ending BUT not the one that author wrote, but the one some 1 else wrote (I dont know who). If any of you would find one or fonded, please write the name of the site =)

the would really help me out

thank you 

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codven | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 30, 2010 at 6:38 PM (Answer #10)

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That's an interesting question, and one I am not sure I can completely answer, since I can't go back and ask Kate Chopin myself.

I think the biggest clue as to why Louise Mallard had to die lies in one of the major themes addressed in this short work: the treatment of women as inferior to men.

In the story, Louise, who has heart trouble (which if read carefully could indicate not only a physical illness, but an emotional trouble), has just learned that her husband is dead. She is moved to tears at first, but soon realizes, in the privacy of her OWN room that she is finally "free--body and soul free."

As much as she loved Brently and her loved her, she always felt trapped. She even says that just the day before she dreaded a long life. Now she looks forward to a long life, because now it is her life. She can now make her own decisions and live the way she wants, not under the authority of a man, as society in the Victorian period insisted that she do.

So, when she realizes that her dream of independence is shattered, she dies. Ironically, no one gets it--they think she was overjoyed.

I think that Chopin chose to make Louise die to illustrate just how desperate women during this time felt. Had she not reacted so dramatically, the story would have less impact. People would think she could get over this, and that she wasn't all that bad off.

For more information about this story, check the link below:

The story ended that way bc editors wouldnt allow the real ending to be published.  Being that of her freedom!!

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