The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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What is a good thesis statement for my essay on "Story of an Hour"? The interpretive question is "Why is "The Story of an Hour" considered feminist literature?

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carol-davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"The Story of an Hour"  by Kate Chopin shows a different point of view about marriage.  In the time of the story, married women were not masters of their fate.  They relied on their husbands for financial support and were expected to do a great deal in return.  As in the case of Louise Mallard, money was not the issue.  Since Louise was ill, she had been told  what to do and never left to make choices for herself. 

The only way that Louise would ever be in charge of her own life is if her husband died.  This is why after her initial grief that she seems elated that now she will have her freedom to do as she pleases. 

Evaluating the women's plight and looking at life from a female perspective is feminist literature. In her writing, Chopin was committed to giving the woman in literature her own perspective. Her heroines would have lives beyond the male view of life. Louise Mallard would have her few moments of freedom:

There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature...

Potential thesis statements:

In "The Story of an Hour," Louise Mallard finds unexpected freedom, no matter how transient. 

Kate Chopin provides a few minutes of freedom from male oppression in "The Story of an Hour."

Louise Mallard slips the bonds of male oppression in "The Story of an Hour."

Louise Mallard recognition of her unhappiness gives way to the "joy of freedom."

Louise Mallard has been subjected to masculine oppression through her doctor to her husband.

"The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, considered an example of early feminist literature, illustrates a woman’s reaction to the end of an unhappy marriage and the beginning of a new life on her own.

In "The Story of an Hour" Chopin  questions the institution of marriage in a cleverly subversive way.

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is considered feminist literature since its narrative treats the central character, Louise Mallard, as a fully realized person with desires and deep feelings that conflict with patriarchal power and its repression of her self-assertion. 

Feminist Literary Criticism examines a text from the perspective of its perpetuation or its rejection of patriarchy and its ideologies. Kate Chopin's story of Mrs. Mallard's one hour of freedom defines the repression of a woman under patriarchy and the potential of this female outside of such a restrictive structure of principles and ideals. Therefore, a good thesis statement for an essay that considers the interpretive question about why Kate Chopin's story is considered feminist literature will address the idea that Mrs. Mallard is repressed under patriarchy, but after learning of her husband's death, she entertains new possibilities for the expression of her own desires.

Here is an example of a thesis statement:

For one hour Mrs. Mallard, who has suffered from repression in a marriage that is male-dominated, feels a growing sense of autonomy and worth as she has been given independence and control of her life by the news of her husband's death.

Support for this thesis can be formed from the ideas of the passage in which Mrs. Mallard whispers, "free, free, free!" as she feels her blood "coursing" and "warmed" in her. "[E]very inch of her body" relaxes as she becomes aware that she is no longer trapped by her marriage to Brently Mallard. It is only then that she considers the future as she feels such "monstrous joy" brought by her realization of freedom from patriarchal oppression.

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