Beautiful Death, Story of an Hour

Essay by kc327582College, UndergraduateA+, March 2004

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Beautiful Death

The Story of an Hour focuses attention to the role women assumed in the nineteenth century. Men almost dominated women and limited the wives to the boring repetitious duties of cleaning and cooking. The main character of the story, Mrs. Mallard, bears the same cross. However, Chopin writes, "And yet she had loved him - sometimes"(186), revealing Mrs. Mallard's love her husband despite oppression. Chopin writes regarding Mr. Mallard's feelings, "The face that had never looked save with love upon her"(186), displaying Mr. Mallard's love for his spouse. The main conflict did not center on Mr. Mallard, rather Mrs. Mallard's oppression by the institution of marriage and all the responsibilities it ensues. The only way Mrs. Mallard can reach the freedom she longs for arrives though her own ironic death.

Mrs. Mallard yearned to break through the repetitious and oppressive life enslaving her. Chopin writes, "pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul"(185).

This passage relays the message of Mrs. Mallard leading a life controlled by her husband. She strained herself with too much work and reached a state of physical exhaustion in marriage, becoming pressed down, unable to move, unable to think for herself due to the control of her husband and restraint of marriage. This oppression of marriage haunted her and reached into her soul, displaying the length and burden marriage has overwhelmed her spirit. Chopin writes in a brief opening to a paragraph describing Mrs. Mallard's face, "She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke of repression"(185). Mrs. Mallard was young when she married, perhaps not yet prepared for the many responsibilities and services a devout wife must fulfill. Similarly the lines of repression suggest the wear that tasks of marriage have taken...