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

In what ways does the life of the author of "The Story of an Hour" parallel the life of the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard?

Expert Answers

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

The Story of an Hour ” is a short one, and simple.  It tells of a young Mrs. Mallard with a weak heart who learns that her husband has been killed in a work accident.  After she sobs uncontrollably at the news, she isolates herself in her room and,...

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

The Story of an Hour” is a short one, and simple.  It tells of a young Mrs. Mallard with a weak heart who learns that her husband has been killed in a work accident.  After she sobs uncontrollably at the news, she isolates herself in her room and, after examining her emotions, is struck with the feeling of freedom.  Her husband’s love, up to that point, had been a burden, had been restricting, preventing her from living entirely for herself.  And now that he has died, she begins to envision with relish what her life will look like alone.  Indeed, she wishes “that life might be long.  It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.”  What she dreaded as a married woman, she now eagerly anticipated as a widow.  However, there had been a strange miscommunication – her husband, in fact, had not been in the accident, and the shock the woman feels at seeing him walk through the door is enough to stop her heart.

In the story Mrs. Mallard believes her husband to have died; in reality, Kate Chopin’s husband Oscar died in 1892, when Kate was still quite young.  He never reemerged as Bently Mallard did, but we can imagine that Kate drew on her own experience with her husband’s death for this piece.  In addition, one of the most common themes in Chopin’s works is that of female empowerment – she was a very strong woman herself, and believed that women should have the opportunity to be in control of their own lives.  And here, in “The Story of an Hour,” we have a woman who is given that opportunity.  Moreover, rather than cede her newfound freedom back to her husband at the end of the story, she dies.  They say in the story that she dies “of heart disease – of joy that kills.”  Indeed, it was the shock of that joy being stripped away from her – she could not live as she once had.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team