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

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The Story of an Hour” is a short story written by Kate Chopin . In the story, Louise receives the bad news that her husband, Brently, has died in a train accident. The short story shows the reader how Louise is dealing with these sad news and how...

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The Story of an Hour” is a short story written by Kate Chopin. In the story, Louise receives the bad news that her husband, Brently, has died in a train accident. The short story shows the reader how Louise is dealing with these sad news and how she is trying to come to terms with it. However, at the end of the story, there is an unexpected twist: Brently returns home, alive and well. Instead, Louise dies of a heart attack.

The setting of the short story is in Louise’s house, presumably in the living room, as Louise is not on her own. She is with her sister, Josephine, who delivers the bad news, and with Richards, “her husband’s friend.” Louise’s house is located on a road, as we learn that “in the street below a peddler was crying his wares.” This suggests that Louise does not live somewhere remote or rural but that she lives in a town. However, it does not appear to be a built-up area nor a huge city, as Louise can see “tops of trees” and she notices that the “delicious breath of rain was in the air,” which would be unlikely to be the case in a very big city.

We can assume that the gathering is taking place very shortly after the accident, as the text tells us that Richards “had hastened (...) bearing the sad message.” Upon receiving the message, Louise retreats to her room, which forms the next setting within the story. At the end of the story, Louise leaves her bedroom and walks back downstairs with her sister, just as Brently enters through the front door.

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The single scene that plays out in "The Story of an Hour" takes place in the main character, Louise Mallard's, home and residence. Most primarily, the action of the story details an internal contemplation on the part of Mrs. Mallard that takes place in the armchair in her room, beside her window. The story opens with Mrs. Mallard's sister, Josephine, telling her that her husband has died in an accident. Mrs. Mallard has for some time suffered from a weak heart, so those around her have taken special care to ensure that the news is delivered very gently.

While Mrs. Mallard sits in her room, she realizes that the feeling that has taken her is not completely one of sadness. In fact, she is excited. Though her husband has not mistreated her, she has come to resent the idea of marriage and of having to live for someone else besides herself. This, as well as the obvious date which the story was written, indicates the setting as the nineteenth century. Marriages at this time were often very repressive, even despite the best intentions on both sides. Mrs. Mallard, who cannot return to her captivity after learning of her husband's death, simply dies on the spot upon realizing that he is, in fact, alive.

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Kate Chopin's classic short story "The Story of an Hour" is set in the late nineteenth century and takes place in the Mallard residence, which is where Brently and Louise live together. The historical setting of the story is significant and contributes to Chopin's theme regarding the oppressive status of married women. In the late nineteenth century, women had few individual rights and were subscribed to a lower social status than men. Married women lacked personal agency, were expected to remain inside the home, and were not granted the individual freedom to express themselves. The protagonist of the story, Mrs. Mallard, embodies the oppressive status of married women during the time period and experiences a brief respite from her controlling husband when she initially believes that he has died.

The physical setting of the story is confined to the Mallard residence and Chopin does not give elaborate details of the home. The audience knows that there is a front entry, stairs, and Mrs. Mallard's room, which has a comfortable, spacious chair facing an open window. The small, limited physical setting underscores Mrs. Mallard's life as an oppressed married woman in the late nineteenth century. The limited physical space of the Mallard residence also aligns with the brief window of time that the story takes place. Chopin provides insight into one significant hour of Mrs. Mallard's life, which is a relatively brief period of time.

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The setting of this wonderful short story is super confined. That makes sense since the story takes place over the course of an hour. There simply is not time for the characters to go anywhere. The entire story takes place within the Mallard's home. We aren't given too many details about the home itself, but we do know that there is an upstairs. We know this because this is where Mrs. Mallard retreats to after being told that her husband was killed. Once upstairs, the story takes place in Mrs. Mallard's bedroom. Details are sparse regarding the bedroom. We know there is a "comfortable, roomy armchair," but we know little else about the surrounding environment. I'm sure that Chopin intentionally set the story this way because it really confines the story, and that is precisely how Mrs. Mallard feels in her marriage.

Regarding the time period, the story could almost be placed in a variety of time periods. This is because the details of the larger world are also kept quite limited. The biggest indicator of a time period is the usage of telegrams for communications. This almost certainly places the story in the second half of the nineteenth century, since Samuel Morse didn't patent his electrical telegraph until 1837.

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The setting of this story is the home of Brently and Louise Mallard.  Louise's sister, Josephine, breaks the news of her husband's death to Mrs. Mallard, and then Mrs. Mallard proceeds to spend the majority of the story in her bedroom, in a chair by the window.  She only comes down the stairs at the end of the story, after her sister has begged her to come out because she's afraid to leave Mrs. Mallard alone. 

As far as the time in which this story is set, the references to telegrams and railroad travel help us to place the story at the end of the nineteenth century or the beginning of the twentieth.  The old-fashioned names of characters, names like Josephine, Louise, and Brently also help us to locate the story during this time period.

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"The Story of an Hour," written by Kate Chopin in 1894, reflects a cultural context that didn't allow many freedoms to women, and this trap of a patriarchal code is what the plot hinges on.

At the time the story was written, women in many American societies were not allowed various legal or monetary rights. There are a few context clues regarding the setting provided in the story, such as the "railroad disaster" that Mrs. Mallard believes her husband has died in and the use of a telegram to convey information. Other than a few such details, the setting could be almost any woman who feels trapped by her marriage and her role in society.

Most of the (brief) action takes place in a short period of time and inside Mrs. Mallard's bedroom, an intimate space. When she takes in the news of her husband's death, she looks out at her surroundings:

Trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. . . . The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves."

Mrs. Mallard's setting is hopeful following her husband's death, full of symbolic elements of possibility and freedom and joy. It is in this setting that she realizes that she can now enjoy living for herself, not guided by her husband's wishes or desires.

There is nothing in this section to tie Mrs. Mallard to a specific time or place, and that is important, as it becomes a universal story of all women who long for "spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own."

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"The Story of an Hour," by Kate Chopin, is set in the home of the main character, Louise Mallard. It is not made clear where in the house Mrs Mallard is at the beginning of the story, when her sister Josephine breaks the news of her husband's death, but after learning the news, Louise goes to her room and closes herself in. She then spends the greater part of the story in this room.

Louise sinks into a chair facing the window, from which she can look down onto the street. It is a rainy day, and she can hear various noises going on below, such as somebody singing and sparrows twittering.

There is no clue offered in the story as to where Louise Mallard's house is actually situated. We know that she lives somewhere that is connected to a railway network, as she believes her husband to have been killed on the railway. Given that Kate Chopin was American, the story is probably set in the United States, but again, this is not made explicit.

In terms of chronological setting, there is no reason to suppose that the story is not set contemporaneously with the time of writing, which is to say, in the 1890s.

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Kate Chopin sets "The Story of an Hour" in the spring, which is meant to coincide with and deepen the idea of a new life for Louise Mallard after her husband's death.

The story takes place mainly in Louise's bedroom and on the stairs that separate the two floors of the Mallards' house. The setting is very restricted, and in this way, Chopin emphasizes the narrowness of Louise's existence in her marriage. Louise can look outside from the window in her room and see and hear the freedom that others are enjoying—and which she, too, will soon enjoy upon being released from an oppressive marriage.

Chopin does not specify a geographic location, nor does she indicate a year. These omissions make the story timeless and universal, to reflect the state of women who might feel that they have little choice but to be married because of societal expectations.

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This story was published in 1894, and we can find a number of clues to indicate that the story is set sometime in the latter half of the 19th century.  First, it seems that a popular mode of travel is rail, as Brently Mallard is believed to have been killed in a "railroad disaster," something not possible or likely until the railroads were built and became a common way to travel in the United States; this boom occurred from the 1830s through the 1860s.  Furthermore, Richards, Brently's friend, confirms Brently's death by telegram, and telegrams likewise became really popular around mid-century.  Even the names of characters -- Josephine, Richards, Brently, and perhaps Louise -- could also provide a less concrete clue about when the story takes place.

Why is the timing of the setting important?  Because it helps us to contextualize Louise Mallard's unexpected reaction to the news of her husband's death.  During the Victorian Era, married women really had no legal identities; under "coverture laws," the woman's legal identity was "covered" by her husband's.  Further, according to gender mores of the time, a married woman would be expected to bend her will to her husband's.  This helps us to understand how Louise could have felt so stifled and confined in a marriage to a man who clearly loved her.  Understanding the setting as being in the America that existed in the late 19th century provides us with some crucial history that informs Louise's response to the news of Brently's death and our reaction to hers.

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The setting of this story is actually very limited, which could be used by Chopin to reflect the feeling of Mrs. Mallard being trapped in her life and almost caged in. The entire story occurs in the Mallard household, with the majority of the "action" occuring in Mrs. Mallard's room as she processes the news that she has just heard and begins to come to terms with the new state of affairs of being a widow and having lost her husband. When things happen outside, they are only referred to, but the entire focus of the story is on the Mallard house and what Mrs. Mallard can see through her window in her room as far as setting goes.

However, what is interesting to note is the way that as Mrs. Mallard begins to contemplate a happy future without her husband, her imagination takes her out of this setting as she imagines the things that she will be able to do:

Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own.

Ironically, though, the return of her husband to the house, safe and sound after all, rapidly reduces the setting once more to the family household and curtails these dreams of freedom, which is what kills Mrs. Mallard.

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