The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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In "The Story of an Hour," what is "the joy that kills?"

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At the end of "The Story of an Hour," Louise Mallard discovers that her husband is, in fact, alive, and the feelings of freedom she had been discovering were in service of nothing. She is described at the beginning as having "heart trouble," and the shock of this discovery is what kills her; however, the interpretation of the actual shock may differ:

[Her husband] had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.

When the doctors came they said...

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yosef2621 | Student

Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”: A Feminist Reading

There are many forms of oppression in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. Not only does

Louise Mallard suffer in her medical and marital conditions, but she also poses a threat to

herself, as her sister Josephine warns. This danger is particularly noticeable, since all of the

action in the story revolves around Louise Mallard’s preservation. Everything is orchestrated to

save her from any sudden and/or extreme distress. In the end, the equilibrium of her situation is

what survives: Brently Mallard’s return signals the return of her oppressive condition and

ensures that Louise Mallard will experience no more than a momentary change in her situation.

It is this unchanging prospect––the preservation of her oppressive condition––that proves Louise

Mallard, or rather her circumstances, fatal to herself.