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What is the theme of The Story of an Hour? What is the main idea?

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smoot | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 7, 2007 at 9:43 AM via web

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What is the theme of The Story of an Hour? What is the main idea?

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brendawm | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted July 7, 2007 at 11:05 AM (Answer #3)

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There are two main themes in "The Story of an Hour.” Identity and Selfhood—Chopin examines issues of “female self-discovery and identity” through having her main character demonstrate extreme feelings of grief upon learning of her husband’s death, only to have those feelings immediately replaced by an indescribable feeling she can only describe as "free, free, free!" or as having "abandoned herself."  In essence, she has basically lived through her husband, and now that she thinks he is gone, she realizes with astonishing exhilaration that she is free and her life is her own once again.  Imagine her sense of complete devastation upon his return. The other theme is the Role of Women in Marriage, and Chopin broaches a subject that was not very popular in her time—the right of the husband to dominate the wife in a marriage.  In the story Louise Mallard is elated that she would  no longer have to bend to the will of her husband.

These are the two main themes briefly summarized, but you may read more at the link below.

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted July 7, 2007 at 2:54 PM (Answer #4)

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I just want to add to the theme of the role of women in marriage. One thing the author makes clear in this story is that Brently Mallard was not a mean or abusive husband to Louise. As Louise is sitting in the upstairs room alone, she admits that "she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death, the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead." It's important to know that her husband had been a kind and loving man and, in spite of this, Louise is happy that she will live the rest of her life without him and now hopes she will have a very long life.

The author is stressing to us that women had no rights at that time to choose their lives. Louise Mallard is a woman who wanted opportunities that were available only to men. A woman was conditioned to go from her father's home to her husband's, and no thought was given to asking if she wanted to go to college or work. This is why it takes Louise a moment to understand "this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will ...". She tries to fight this strange feeling she's having, but she can't, and then the words "free, free, free" pour out.

Louise Mallard didn't want out of a bad marriage; she did not want to be married. She wanted to make her own decisions and live her life the way she chose.

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housets4lyf | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 6, 2009 at 9:00 PM (Answer #5)

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brendawm, u just sved me from my teacher's wrath.haha thx anyway for the answer

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swayzedmarini | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 16, 2011 at 12:50 PM (Answer #6)

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haha oh my gosh....i was suprised that i hit the theme and everything right on the head of the nail...but does anyone know if her marriage was possibly arrange??? because i took an exam today on this story and in explaining the setting i said about the social enviorment that she might have been married off at a young age due to arranged marriage?

could that be a possible applicable answer?

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted April 30, 2014 at 3:06 AM (Answer #7)

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The Story of an Hour' is a short story written by Kate Chopin and published on December 6, 1894. 'The Story of an Hour' spans a one-hour span of time in the life of Mrs. Millard, the main character. Mrs. Millard has a heart condition, which causes her sister and Richards, to be very concerned about her when she is told the terrible news of her husband's death in a train accident. The main theme of the story is marriage and the forbidden pleasure of independence.

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