In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," where is Mrs. Mallard from? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As is so often the case, there is much of the author in his/her work.  Kate Chopin, born in St. Louis, Missouri, lost her father to a train accident and was raised by her French-Creole mother and grandmother. As a young woman, she married Oscar Chopin in 1868, a French-Creole businessman in New Orleans. The couple lived in Louisiana until Oscar's death in 1882.  With these many years of experience of the French-Creole life, Chopin's depictions of characters such as Louise Mallard are very realistic.  For, she was quite familiar with the femme-covert laws of Creole society since she herself lived under them. 

These laws gave control to the husband; for example, when women married, any property that they owned belonged to the husband. Wives were expected to raise the children and managed the household, but they had no say in financial or social decisions.  Clearly, the Creole society is a male-dominated society.  And, Louise Mallard is a wife who has lost her individuality and merely become "Mrs. Mallard."  Chopin indicates this loss of individual identity by using the title Mrs. with the husband's last name rather than her first name, Louise as well as the feminine pronoun she, which is only used after Bentley Mallard is presumed dead. This manipulation of name indicates Chopin's moral truth that people are often trapped in relationships.

She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength.  But now...[there was] a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.

When Bentley Mallard appears in the doorway, Louise Mallard dies "of a joy that kills" because she realizes that she must return to being merely Mrs. Mallard, living in an American city which is most likely New Orleans since the names are of French origin.


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