The Story Of An Hour

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade May 2001

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In "The Story of an Hour" Kate Chopin uses the sharp contrast between downstairs and upstairs to tell the story of Louise Mallard, a women that finally breaks free from her latent conflict with society's expectations only to die when she realizes she can not keep the freedom she discovers. The tale's setting of downstairs, upstairs, and back downstairs is a guide to the feelings and experiences of Louise, from death of individuality to freedom back to literal death. The blame of her death clearly rests on society, more specifically on the ignorance of her family and friends. Chopin uses Louise Mallard to show how 19th century society oppressed women with the roles that were expected of them.

The story starts off downstairs, where Louise is still trapped in her social role as wife. The reader is already given the information that Louise has a supposed heart condition. This assumption made by the doctors was due mainly to the fact that Louise was expected to be weak because she was a female.

Because of the supposed heart condition Richard "had only" taken the time to send another telegram to be sure before he went to tell Louise to precede any, "less careful, less tender" friend in telling her. He did this supposedly because of the heart condition. Josephine hurries over also to try to comfort her sister for the same reason. Both Richard and Josephine rush to assume that she cannot handle her husbands death because she is not strong enough with her dependent role. When Louise hears the news that her husband was killed in a train wreck Chopin slips in a little foreshadowing when the story says, "she did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its...