illustration of a woman in a dress standing as if she were in shock

The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin
Start Free Trial

What is the oppression of women in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin?

In "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, the oppression of women is seen in the stereotypical roles of women that existed in that time period and in a woman who was not happy playing the role of subservient housewife.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour ," the oppression of women isn't super blatant; there is a woman who is unhappy in her marriage, and has a rather unusual reaction to news of her husband's death.  She is, after the initial grief and shock, actually overcome...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," the oppression of women isn't super blatant; there is a woman who is unhappy in her marriage, and has a rather unusual reaction to news of her husband's death.  She is, after the initial grief and shock, actually overcome with a sense of freedom.  This is not because she was abused, or because her husband was an awful tyrant; in fact, as Louise Mallard (the wife) thinks of him, she realizes that "she had loved him, sometimes," and she knew that at the funeral that she would

"weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead."

So, her husband was kind, and he loved her, showing her love in every glance.  However, this did not keep Louise from feeling oppressed.  She lived an era when women were born and bred to be married, to serve their husbands, to be mothers and housewives, and to submit their will to the head of the household.  So even though Brently Mallard was "kind," Chopin alludes to the fact that his wife was repressed (she had a face "whose lines bespoke repression") and who resented 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" that often came with marriage."

So, the suppression in this story is subtle; it is seen in the stereotypical roles of women that existed in that time period, and in a woman who was not happy playing the role of subservient housewife.  Freed from that role unexpectedly, Louise Mallard feels like "a goddess of Victory" as she looks forward to her life as a "free" woman.  I hope those thoughts help; good luck!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team