In this short story, Kate Chopin portrays position of women in society, their relations with men and husbands. through the character of Mrs. Mallard Chopin depicts destiny of a middle class woman, her grievances and problems caused by inequality with men. The well-being of society was derived from the spiritual health of its individual members. Thesis Chopin portrays that women had no chance to be happy and divorce limited by social traditions and roles which determine their life path.
The main character, Mrs. Mallard, is perceived as a weak person unable to protect herself and resist social problems. Chopin begins the story with the following words: “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” (Chopin 259. Thus, Chopin portrays that Mrs. Mallard is an ordinary woman who has good health and is able to express her feelings and bear bad news. The case of Mrs. Mallard shows that women were not perceived as independent individuals: “”Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door–you will make yourself ill” (Chopin 260). During this period of time, many women were perceived as helpless creatures who needed support and guidance from family members.
The irony is that the basic situation of a female widowed by accident brings joy and happiness to the lady. One of the first things the “young” Mrs. Mallard hears after earning of her husband’s accidental death is “the countless sparrows” (Chopin 259). Chopin portrays that a zeal to meet social standards and follow standards of right living (of whose absolute authority, residing in divine inspiration, they had no doubt) limits the life of all women. During this period of time, women had no right to divorce, and death of a husband is the only chance to become free and independent. “”Free! Body and soul free!” she kept whispering” (Chopin 259). This remark shows the link between Mrs. Mallard’s interior struggle and her struggle with society. She seems to represent both her conscience and the community. “Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 260). Almost every time Mallard sets herself against her husband, she is also setting herself against society and against the values. Mrs. Mallard interior coordination, her quest to know and approve of herself, is solidly linked to her exterior coordination, or her arrival at a juster relation to others and to the community.
Chopin portrays that women had no chance to be happy and find their true love. There is however a darker accompaniment to woman’s desire in Chopin’s story: her sense that love might be nothing more than desire and that it is inconstant. Mrs. Mallard considered these possibilities as she responded to the apparent death of her husband: “she had loved him–sometimes,” and now she realized that “love, the unsolved mystery” is nothing in the face of “selfassertion… the strongest impulse” (353). Chopin asserts that the fact of desire discloses the delusion that love is eternal feeling. It seems that Mrs. Mallard is at least able to feel love, and, even though she is still confused about the meaning of love. She is shocked by the death and happy at the same time. Chopin portrays that Mrs. Mallard’s loves life and nature, people around her and herself. In this story, then, the desire to live or the beating of one’s pulses and the waves of passion proceed at the inexorable pace of real time in natural history, as measured by selection: for this reason the ideal of eternal love.
Chopin depicts that Mrs. Mallard but it is the happiest moment in her life. She cannot display her emotions and wants to be alone in order to feel real happiness and freedom. “She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” (Chopin 260). It is possible to say that people whose morals they felt impelled to exercise a special guardianship; and, not least, the aristocracy, which was worldly and cynical, if not immoral. Yet those pressures were not all-pervasive; or at least there were numerous people strong enough to withstand them. Up to a point the story is pessimistic, and dramatists whose preferences lie with tragedy, since they exhibit a woman coming to grief by a process which is made to appear inevitable. Ibsen accordingly must, like his brethren, suffer the presumption of being a pessimist.
In sum, Chopin tells readers about low social roles of women and inability to become free and independent. Only death of a husband can make women free and bring happiness to their lives. Mrs. Mallard dies “of the joy that kills” so important and desirable in her life. Through an hour of happiness, Chopin portrays that life of women was influenced by public morality depended upon private virtue.
Chopin, K. The Story of an Hour. The Bedford Guide for College Writers. pp. 259-260.