The Story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin: A Literary Review
ENG125: Introduction to Literature (ABI1131B)
July 28, 2011
Louise Mallard, our protagonist of the story, is depicted immediately as high strung with a weak heart. She is informed by a close family friend, in the most genteel way possible, that her husband has died in a train accident. At first, as the reader expects her to, given her description, Mrs. Mallard bursts into hysterics, weeping uncontrollably and locking herself in her room; much to the chagrin of her sister and the reluctant informant. As the author takes the reader through the mental and emotional process of the information Mrs. Mallard has received, we begin to understand that the new widow is quite young, just as the character begins to realize it herself. In a very short time, the reader sees the transformation of a grieving widow into that of a woman who has just stumbled onto the fact that she has attained her freedom, and will not have to answer to anyone ever again. Our leading lady becomes giddy with this exciting turn of events in her mind, and her elation over her unfettered future is evident to her sister as she emerges from the confines of her room. Just as Mrs. Mallard is about to descend the staircase, her husband walks through the front door. Mrs. Mallard drops dead of a heart attack.
This short story snuck up on me in a way I had not expected. I was fully prepared to read another period piece of a droll housewife mourning the loss of her husband, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that our protagonist was made of sterner stuff. The author writes with such ambiguity that she takes the unsuspecting reader along the same emotional journey as Mrs. Mallard, with a finesse so subtle that one is literally hit over the head with it. Verbal puns set aside, it was a fascinating read, which kept my attention and left me destitute at the end. I felt proud of Mrs. Mallard, who seemed to...