The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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What is the theme of "The Story of an Hour"?

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Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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"The Story of an Hour" is specifically about the ways in which marriage constrained nineteenth-century women from living life as they wished. Marriage was not an equal partnership but an arrangement in which, more often than not, the man was the one in charge.

The most obvious way to show this would have been to make Louise's husband out to be a tyrannical ogre figure, but Chopin is much more clever and realistic in her treatment of him. He is described as pretty normal and a decent fellow who never intended to hurt his wife. He simply assumes, as all of society did in the Victorian era, that women are meant to serve men within a marriage and have no life of their own outside the domestic sphere. Even Louise has some affection for him, which Chopin wryly alludes to: "She did love him. Sometimes." However, this is not enough for Louise, and Chopin seems to suggest it should not be for women in general.

Louise has no identity aside from "wife" until she believes her husband has been...

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