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The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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

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In "The Story of an Hour," the social setting of the story is a prosperous middle-class home. The time setting is the late nineteenth century, and the entire story occurs within an hour. The place setting is an unspecified American city.

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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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What is the social setting, time setting, and place setting in "The Story of an Hour"?

Many clues from the story tell us that the social setting in which the Mallards live is prosperously middle class. They occupy a two-story home with windows that let in light. When Mrs. Mallard goes off by herself to mourn the news of her husband's death in a railroad accident, she is able to sit in "a comfortable, roomy armchair." She has a pleasant view of blue skies. Most importantly, her husband's death causes her no economic alarm at all: this suggests she will be left comfortably well-off. In fact, what his death most signals to her is her freedom. She sees a pleasant life ahead of being able to do exactly what she wants.

The story was published in 1894 and reflects a time when a single woman could expect to enjoy some new social possibilities. The time setting is the period in which the New Woman was beginning to emerge from the domestic hearth. The time setting is also the span of the story from beginning to end. Louise Mallard hears of her husband's death, mourns it, feels joy in her freedom, and dies from shock when her husband enters her home, his reported death obviously a mistake, all in the course of a single hour.

The place setting is an unspecified American city.

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What is the social setting, time setting, and place setting in "The Story of an Hour"?

While the setting of "The Story of an Hour" is static, it certainly can be analyzed from the perspectives of time, place and society. All of these factors impact the plot and move it forward. These perspectives also bring deeper meaning to many details in the story. 

First, a social setting is defined as the historical and communal context within which the story takes place. This encompasses the phenomenologies taking place at a certain time period in history, social trends, parameters of behavior, and the accepted notions and constructs that decide the do's and don'ts of the time. 

This being said, the social setting of "The Story of an Hour" is the 19th century, which is a time period in history where women were seen as nurturers, and not as independent thinkers. As a result, women would have been expected to serve society mainly as wives and mothers. Marriages, however, were seldom (if ever) love matches. Instead, they were networking opportunities to increase family fortunes, or link family names.

This was all a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, which (no redundance intended) revolutionized life in general. More technology, more jobs, more money, and more advancements helped to redefine gender roles and the role of "family", morality, and civility. Unfortunately for women, they became redefined as "angels of the household", which was a widely accepted term and construct of the time. 

We learn that Louise Mallard "had loved" her husband Brentley Mallard, but she has evidently reached a point in her existence where passions other than wifely love are beginning to tug at her spirit. She wants to be independent, enjoy life her way, and become "free".  This need for freedom leads to the second setting, which focuses on "place". 

The "place" setting of the story is the Mallard residence. No character leaves the inside of the home, but both Richards and Brentley are the only characters that do come in. Whether this could be a metaphor representing men entering and dominating the personal space of women is unclear, but it is a possibility. 

Within this setting, there is an inner sanctum: Louise's room. In there, the armchair that faces the window provides Louise with a comforting visual of what life looks like outside the home where she appears to live like a recluse.

Whether it is because her heart is weak, or because her husband expects her to be there, the point remains that Louise needs that window to see the "patches of blue sky" and the green pastures to which she desperately wants to go. She wants out--of her marriage, of her situation, and of her house. 

The time setting is perhaps the easiest to identify as the story takes place, literally, within one hour. During this time period, the main character undergoes a dynamic change. She goes from being psychologically subdued 

Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.

to becoming a wild dreamer with a passion that we would have never known about otherwise. 

There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory.

It is then when she transforms into a person who is prepared to embrace the freedom of being her own person. She wants this more than anything and, as her husband shows up alive and well, she cannot even imagine going back to the shell from which she blossomed in such a short period of time. This is why she dies of what is ironically dubbed as "joy that kills".

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What is the social setting, time setting, and place setting in "The Story of an Hour"?

The setting is an American city, the time is the late 19th century. The social setting is defined by a male dominated society where women have little to say about their lives.  They go from their father's house to their husband's house.  Mrs. Mallard lives with her husband, who makes all the decisions in the home, and for his wife.  As a married woman, Louise Mallard must fall in line behind her husband.    

The time period is significant to the story because Louise Mallard dreams of a life of freedom of choice to pursue her individual interests. This life escapes her, except in the brief period when she imagines it with all its joys before she discovers that her husband was not killed, and before she dies.  

The story was published in 1894, in the midst of the battle for women's rights.  Society was struggling to define the proper roles for women, it would be almost 25 years before women would get the right to vote.

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How is the setting related to the theme in "The Story of an Hour"?

In addition to the excellent information that you have been given about the fact that the story takes place within a single room, another element of setting that is critical to the understanding of this piece is the time frame during which the story takes place. The story is set in the late 19th century. The role of women during this time period was that of a subservient and obedient figure. The wife was to follow the wishes and demands of her husband. She was not allowed freedom to possess her own identity. Because of this, Louise Mallard is given her identity as a fragile woman with a heart condition by her male doctor husband who is assumed to know better, to be the controlling element in her life. The impact this has on the story is that when she thinks her husband is dead she experiences a brief moment during which she feels that she might be free to have her own identity for the first time in her married life.

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How is the setting related to the theme in "The Story of an Hour"?

Much like Louise Mallard's own life with her husband, who has restricted her growth as a woman, the setting of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" also places her in a closed-in place with little room for movement. The entire setting is indoors--apart from the outside world which Louise so hopes to one day experience on her own. When she retreats to her room to consider the news about her husband, it becomes her own little world, confined once again from her friends and the outside. But it is here that she prepares herself for her new life without her husband, and looking out the window, she sees the outside world as one that she will finally get to know independently. But between her room and the outside door--an area ruled by her husband--she loses her freedom once and for all when the news of her husband's escape from death greets her.

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How is the setting related to the theme in "The Story of an Hour"?

O’Connor uses the setting of the story to lure the reader into a state of comfort before unleashing the darkness the Misfit represents and the darkness of the Grandmother’s soul. The grandmother thinks she is a good woman and by all external appearances, she is. However, just like the pretty rural countryside they drive through, there is something hidden beneath the surface.

By setting the story in the rural, quiet countryside, O’Connor gives the reader a sense of calm and comfort before introducing the violence of the story which is supposed to jar the reader into reflection. Initially, the story meanders along with the family taking a road trip. . Even the stop at Red Sammy’s where the family find out about the Misfit escaping from jail are described visually as pleasant. Additionally, most place names and areas are vague to give the reader the idea that this violence can happen anywhere, especially where you least expect it.

The grandmother becoming mistaken about where the old plantation house is, can be seen as a metaphor for the path her life has taken. She thinks she is a good woman and that she is righteous in her beliefs but just like the pastoral landscape the family travels through, there is hidden darkness or evil lurking where you least expect it.

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How is the setting related to the theme in "The Story of an Hour"?

The setting relates to the theme very directly. That is to say, the bulk of the story happens inside, within a domestic setting. We are told the following: "There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul."

Mrs. Mallard is contained by the walls of the house as her life has been by society and her husband. Right now, though, the news of his death creates "the open window," a symbol of the possibility of change. The landscape visible through the window symbolizes the realms of new hope she might enter. However, before she can go out into that world, her husband re-enters the house/her life, killing her.

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