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The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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What is the point of view in "The Story of an Hour"?

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A third-person narrator tells Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour."

In the first two paragraphs, the narrative is told in a reportorial voice by what we might call a third-person objective narrator. The actions of the characters are described without emotion or comment. This first paragraph, for example, could be printed in a newspaper, as it merely describes the who, what, and why of the initial situation. Then, in the third paragraph, the narrator begins to relate Mrs. Mallard's emotions as her reaction to the tragic news of her husband's accidental death is described.

Into this [armchair] she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.

For about a dozen paragraphs, Chopin employs a limited narrator as she relates the emotions and thoughts that race through Mrs. Mallard's mind. (A limited narrator knows and is able to relate the thoughts and feelings of just one of the story's characters.) This narration is at the heart of the story; a repressed woman has been set free by the tragic death of her husband. At this time, she has a "moment of illumination":

...she would live for herself. There would be no 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.

Then, the final four paragraphs return to the third-person objective narrator that only reports what an observer would see as Mrs. Mallard descends the stairs from her bedroom and Brently Mallard comes through the front door.

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The point of view in this short story is probably best described as that of a limited third person narrator.

The story is not told from the point of view of any of the characters.  We are not seeing the story through Mrs. Mallard's eyes or those of her sister or any one else's eyes.  Instead, we are outside of the action looking in.

We can say the narrator is limited because he or she can know what the people are thinking, but not all the time.  The narrator is not just telling us what happened, he or she is also telling us what Louise is thinking.  But we don't really know what anyone else is thinking.

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From what perspective is "The Story of an Hour" told?

Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” combines the perspective of the third-person omniscient narrator with that of Mrs. Mallard. The story teller is an outside narrator who shares the story of Mrs. Mallard as she is informed of her husband’s death. The narrator describes the young woman’s initial grief and comments on her intelligence and strength, while also indicating that she has been repressed in her life.

Then, although the story continues in third person, the perspective shifts to Mrs. Mallard’s. The narrator describes her realization that she is “Free! Body and soul free!” The young woman recognizes that although she had loved her husband, all she had done was live for him and give in to his will. She considers the many years ahead of her during which she can enjoy her life and live for herself. At this point of realization, the narrator makes a point of calling her Louise, instead of Mrs. Mallard, as acknowledgement of her new independence.

Still continuing Louise’s point of view through the third person narrator, Louise assures her worried sister that she is alright. As she walks down the stairs toward the opening front door through which Mr. Mallard walks, the perspective shifts back to the third person narrator. Louise dies of “joy that kills” as she sees her husband is indeed alive. The narrator explains that the doctor believes she had a heart attack, presumably from being shocked with happiness that her husband is alive. But the readers know the truth. She dies of a heart attack from the shock of losing the freedom she had so desperately needed and was on the threshold of obtaining.

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Who is telling the story in "The Story of an Hour"? Whose point of view are we hearing?

The short story "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin tells of a woman named Louise Mallard who hears that her husband has been killed in a train wreck. Most of the story is about Louise's reaction to her husband's death.

The beginning and the ending of the story is told from the third-person omniscient point of view. This means that the author, Kate Chopin, is telling the story from a detached, impartial viewpoint. We can see this because in the beginning Chopin refers to thoughts that characters have and actions that they take before Louise hears the news, and at the end, Chopin describes what happens after Louise dies.

However, a few paragraphs in, after Louise hears about the death of her husband, Chopin switches to the third-person limited point of view. She describes not only what Louise does but also the thoughts and emotions she is experiencing. In short, Louise is relieved that her husband is dead, so the tone is one of relief and gratitude. Concerning their relationship, although she supposed that she might have loved him sometimes, he has been oppressive and domineering towards her, and she is grateful to be free to make her own decisions and live her own life. This is best expressed by this quote:

There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no 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.

Before Louise comes to a realization of her freedom, Chopin presents the imagery of a beautiful spring day with a blue sky and quivering treetops. She smells freshness and hears someone singing and sparrows twittering. These images give her a feeling of exuberance, possibility, and hope. They help her to embrace the freedom that she has imagined for herself.

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