A Story Of An Hour Feminist Criticism Essay

A Feminist Perspective Of Kate Chopin's The Story Of An Hour

A Feminist Perspective of Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour

Kate Chopin employs the tool of irony in "The Story of an Hour" to carefully convey the problem inherent in women's unequal role in marital relationships. Chopin develops a careful plot in order to demonstrate this idea, one not socially acceptable at the end of the 19th century, and unfortunately, a concept that still does not appreciate widespread acceptance today, 100 years later as we near the end of the 20th century. Louise Mallard's death, foreshadowed in the initial line "Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart trouble" takes on quite a different meaning when the plot twists and the context of her sudden death is presented unexpectedly, not upon her shock at her husband's death, but instead in her inability to endure the fact that he lives.

While Chopin's employment of irony presents a socially unaccepted concept in a more acceptable format, it is the author's use of perspective that increases the impact of her message. Chopin's point might be lost, perhaps entirely, if the reader were not informed from Louise's viewpoint. While the other characters are oblivious to her actual joy in death, although it is described as such "When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease - of joy that kills," their definition of this joy equates to her love for her husband. In contrast, because Chopin writes from the perspective of Louise, we understand that the intermittent love she feels for her husband, love itself dismissed as the "unsolved mystery," pales in comparison to the joy she feels upon the discovery that she can now live with the "possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being."

While Chopin leads the reader along the path of Louise's self-discovery, revealing the character's previously unrecognized, or at least unacknowledged, even to herself, desire to live her life for herself, experiencing "Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own," she draws the reader in to share this discovery. This path begins with Chopin's presentation of images of freedom as represented in Louise's reflective gaze out the "open window" at "the new spring life" and the "patches of...

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Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “The Story of an Hour” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints abouthow to use PaperStarter.comin the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.

• To Refresh : Here is a Full Plot Summary of “Story of an Hour” by Chopin •

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 “The Story of an Hour" as a Feminist Text

Author Kate Chopin is well-known for some of the most seminal feminist stories and novels in the Western canon. “The Story of an Hour" is one such text. In this story, Chopin addresses many of the concerns that are central to feminism, including the determination and expression of a woman’s unique identity distinct from the identity of her husband and the right of a woman to identify and experience her own interests. While there is an aspect of this story that is controversial—namely, that Mrs. Mallard feels excited after learning that her husband has died—the reader can empathize with Mrs. Mallard’s feelings and support her. For more on this topic, check out this oand its discussion of marriage and women's roles.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2 : The Theme of Guilt in “The Story of an Hour”

One of the aspects of “The Story of an Hour" that is compelling—both fascinating and repellent—to the reader is the fact that Mrs. Mallard feels excitement after learning that her husband has been killed in an accident. Mrs. Mallard anticipates the possibility of finally being able to live for herself, rather than for or in relation to her husband. Rather than condemn Mrs. Mallard for such an emotion, the reader empathizes with Mrs. Mallard. Although her husband did not appear to be abusive, the reader intuitively understands that Mrs. Mallard felt oppressed in her marriage and now, for the first time ever, she feels the possibility of constructing her own identity and identifying possibilities for her own future.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3 :Suspense, Shock, and Surprise : Narrative Devices in “The Story of an Hour”

One of the most commendable aspects of Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour" is the fact that the author is able to manipulate suspense, shock, and surprise in a tale that is extraordinarily compact. In this essay, the writer offers a close reading and detailed explication of the story, paying particular attention to the techniques that Chopin uses to build up these three emotions and tensions in the reader. Specific techniques that will be examined include characterization,

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 : Issues Surrounding Mrs. Mallard’s Death

Upon learning that her husband did not, in fact, die in a train wreck as she had been told, Mrs. Mallard has a sudden heart attack. This detail, while seemingly minor, does not escape the interest of the astute reader. In a short, compact story, the reader has understood intimately the strange excitement that Mrs. Mallard felt upon learning that her husband has died, and her death of a heart attack is a symbolic representation of the loss that is represented by the knowledge that she will not be able to live the life that she imagined for herself. In this essay, the writer will argue that no other outcome was possible for Mrs. Mallard. Having glimpsed the possibility of a life of her own, her husband’s survival necessarily caused her own death.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 The Role of the Reader in “The Story of an Hour”

“The Story of an Hour" is a piece of literature that does not allow the reader to be ambivalent or indifferent about its events. The reader will have a reaction of one extreme or another—either extreme recrimination for Mrs. Mallard or profound empathy for her. In this essay, the writer examines the role of the reader in Chopin’s story. Far from playing a spectator role, the reader of this story must become engaged and must take a moral stance.

• To Refresh : Here is a Full Plot Summary of “Story of an Hour” by Chopin •

Click here for an excellent article on “The Story of an Hour” … Also, be sure to take a look at other PaperStarter entries on various works by Kate Chopin, including The Awakening and Desiree's Baby and The Storm*


This list of important quotations from “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “Story of an Hour” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes from “The Story of an Hour” contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.

“Knowing that Mrs. 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." (para. 1)

“She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance…." (para. 3)

“There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully." (para. 9)

“She said it over and over under the breath: ‘free, free, free!" (para. 10)

“She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her…." (para. 10)

“She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her…." (para. 11)

“But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would be hers absolutely." (para. 11)

“And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome." (para. 11)

“There would be no one to live for in those coming years. She would live for herself." (para. 12)

“When the doctors came, they said she had died of heart disease—of the joy that kills." (para. 20)

Reference

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour." http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/

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