The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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What is the Message of “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin? What is her famous novel? 

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Kate Chopin's most famous short novel is called The Awakening, and it was published in 1899.

Her 1894 short story, "The Story of an Hour," suggests that for women of the time, many freedoms that they desired were denied to them because of the repressive nature of marriage and, more broadly, society. Only when her husband Brently Mallard is presumed dead does Louise begin to dream of a free "body and soul." The story does not suggest that Brently Mallard is abusive toward Louise, but she longs to be free of the "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." Louise longs for the ability to make her own decisions and spend her time as she chooses. The fact that her husband's friend Richards is there both to break the news to her and shield her from the shocking reappearance of Brently suggests a paternalistic societal structure that treats Louise like a child.

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There have been many differing views published on "Story of an Hour" but most readers agree that it is a feminist expression.  The story was written in 1890's and it reflected the very real idea of American society at that time that a woman could live only through her husband.  Most readers are shocked-more so then than now- that Mrs. Mallard feels free now that her husband is dead.  Irony is woven throughout this very short story.  Still the overriding "message" of this story is that Mrs. Mallard is in a marriage that literally kills her.

Kate Chopin is probably far better known for her short stories like "The Storm" and "Desiree's Baby", but the more famous of her two novels was The Awakening.  Her other novel was At Fault.

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