The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

The Story of an Hour book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Point out some way in which the denoument contributes to the overall theme of "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin.

Expert Answers info

M.P. Ossa, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer, ESL/TEFL Instructor

bookM.A. from Chapman University

calendarEducator since 2008

write5,679 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

The denouement of The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin occurs when Mrs. Mallard reacts to the sight of her husband after she had been told that he was dead from an accident.

According to the story,

Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.  

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease--of the joy that kills. 

This is a significant matter considering that, earlier on, Mrs. Mallard was literally breathing for the first time “the elixir of life” that came with the news. We learn that Mrs. Mallard felt that she was finally free from what we can assume was a tedious and unwanted marriage. The joy that befell her was greater than anything, and made her already-weakened heart palpitate with the emotion one feels when a burden is lifted.

One must not forget that the position of women in society at the time this story was published was not the most optimal. Women were merely a social fixture whose only purpose was to breed, nurture, and care for a home. Marriage was basically the only choice for women to be in society. However, we also know that many marriages were arranged and many women were emotionally and sexually dissatisfied.

Hence, when Mrs. Mallard’s shock to see her husband was strong enough to kill her, one can imagine that Mr. Mallard’s presence in her life was unbearable. Seeing him again would mean to give up that sensation of freedom that she so cherished. To add to the irony , her cause of death was said to be from a “joy that kills”. The reader knows that her death came actually from the shocking disappointment of seeing her husband again.  Therefore the way this affects the overall theme of the story is that Mrs. Mallard’s desperate for freedom became a silent cry for help that maybe even manifested itself in her weakened heart.  When she saw that she had to give up the sensation of liberation...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 768 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write4,119 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial