The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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What does the phrase "Free! Body and soul free!" indicate?

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The phrase "Free! Body and soul free!" is what Louise utters to herself over and over again upon realizing that her husband's death is not affecting her in the way that she (and, it seems, her sister and others) had thought it would. Instead of feeling sullen and filled with grief, she is surprised to find a feeling of relief and even...

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jlc4286 | Student

The phrase “Free! Body and soul free!” refers to the unexpected, euphoric feeling that Loise Mallard experiences upon hearing that her husband has died. She realizes that without her husband, she will be able to live her life the way she wants to live it, without being tied down to her husband and her marriage.

Instead of feeling grief, which is the expected emotion, Louise feels relief. Chopin was a feminist author, whose main characters are women who are oppressed and stifled by their male counterparts. While the men in her stories are not necessarily “bad” or malicious, they represent society’s marginalization of women and these men are figures who keep the female characters from realizing their individual potentials.

Louise is physically and emotuonally “free,” if only for a short time, and for a woman in Louise’s society, that feeling is rare and unexpected. It is also exhilarating, considering that the patriarchal culture so rarely allows for women to feel this way.