While the theme of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour " is certainly a subjective one--female self-assertion--the point of view is third person limited. But, Chopin does manipulate this objective point of view with subtle skill. At first Mrs. Mallard (notice the affected distance created by using this...
While the theme of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is certainly a subjective one--female self-assertion--the point of view is third person limited. But, Chopin does manipulate this objective point of view with subtle skill. At first Mrs. Mallard (notice the affected distance created by using this formal title) is incapable of assessing her situation. But, after she retires to her room, and becomes aware of her emotions, the reader begins to apprehend her character. However, when she returns downstairs, the reader is cut off from Mrs. Mallard's thoughts.
Thus, the subjective communication of Chopin's sympathies is very surreptitious as it is shadowed in the reportorial passive voice. This use of the passive voice in so many of her sentences also contributes to the subtlety of the theme. In an essay by Madonne M. Miner in The Markham Review, the critic contends that the language of the story keeps the reader distanced from Mrs. Mallard's "possession of self" until the end when Brentley Mallard appears in the doorway and Mrs. Mallard dies "of the joy that kills."
Miner contends that as "an affective stylist, Chopin reveals asubtle movement in the reader toward doubt" with her use of passive voice which seems objective, but does not actually name a subject of the action. For instance, the very first sentence creates doubt in the reader who cannot be positive about what "a heart trouble" means. First of all, the addition of the article a set up doubt, then there is great care taken by Chopin to keep the reader from know who has made this diagnosis of Mrs. Mallard's heart.
The use of the passive voice always connotes a diminishing of power of the doer of the action; this structure, by its nature, parallels and suggests the diminished power of Mrs. Mallard herself. The reader, then, wonders if there is not a more complex layer of meaning in the masterful story of Chopin who withholds responsibility for the action through third person limited point of view, yet creates the subjective possibility of her them at the same time. Thus, the contention can be made that the writer's position is both objective and subjective.