The Story Of An Hour Conflict

What is the main conflict in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin


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A literary element that is essential to the plot of a story, the "conflict" is the internal or external problem that is caused by an instigating situation, or the triggering event that moves the plot forward. The instigating event that causes the conflict of the main character is two-fold: first, that Louise Mallard's husband is presumed dead; the problem with this is that Louise also has a weak heart. Breaking the news to Mrs. Mallard will be an issue.

It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing.

Therefore, the first conflict is how to convey the news delicately. This conflict is external because it has nothing to do with the philosophical growth of the character itself; it is just something "from outside" that makes Louise suffer.

The internal conflict that comes as a result of the presumed death of Mr. Mallard presents itself as a complication to this conflict;is the self-revelation that Louise actually feels happy and free as a result of Brently Mallard's death. Far from experiencing pain, Louise feels

"Free! Body and soul free!"

This must have come as a shock to Louise, herself, and as a result of this, her heart begins to race, and palpitate in wild dreams of what her future life will be like. This in no way indicates that Louise hates, or does not love, Brently. She even says that she had "sometimes" loved him, and that he had been nothing but kind to her. However, marriage and the submission of her womanhood is something that she has wholeheartedly come to dislike. The idea of a life free of social expectations and rules has made her wild with excitement.

Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.

The denouement of the story, which occurs when Brently Mallard enters the home after the reader realizes that the news of his death were premature and false, ends when Louise dies from the same conflicting condition that had been a problem in the story form the beginning.

Therefore, out of the internal and external conflicts that surface as a result of the triggering event it is the external conflict, the weak heart condition of Louise Mallard, the one which seems to be the most powerful. After all, if Mrs. Mallard had not a weak heart condition, would she have died at the end of the story? The internal conflict, which is the uncovering of her true feelings is more of a complication of the conflict, but nevertheless it is a problem to the story as well. Both come together as equally important.

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