The story of an hour:the hard lesson learned!

Essay by chim0bay October 2004

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"'Free! Body and soul free!'", Mrs. Mallard kept whispering. One person's ultimate freedom may be seen as a tragedy to another. Kate Chopin illustrates this idea in "The Story of an Hour." The story is set in the nineteenth century. Chopin uses the death of Mr. Mallard to show the reader Mrs. Mallard's deep feelings. In the story, Josephine and Mrs. Mallard are sisters. Although the women come from the same background, live in the same city, and outwardly appear to be satisfied with their lives, their attitudes are very different. Chopin uses these two women as foil characters in the story. The differences in the women are seen in their reactions to Mr. Mallard's death. Although both women are expected to maintain a certain role in society, Mrs Mallard, unlike Josephine, is not satisfied with her life due to the societal restrictions. At the end of the story, Josephine and Mrs.

Mallard respond very differently to Mr. Mallard's coming home.

Josephine and Mrs. Mallard feel very differently about the societal restrictions placed on them. Josephine is portrayed as the perfect nineteenth-century woman. She fulfills her duty as care-giver. This duty is seen when Josephine is kneeling before Mrs. Mallard's locked door pleading for admission: "'Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door-you will make yourself ill,'" Josephine implores. Josephine is concerned about the well-being of her sister. She is present when Mrs. Mallard hears the news of her husband's death and provides comfort and compassion. On the other hand, Mrs. Mallard feels trapped and burdened by the restriction placed on her by society. Mrs. Mallard longs to be an individual who does not belong to someone else. When alone in her room, Mrs. Mallard says over and over again, "'free, free,