defined as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality between
men and women.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2017) In The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, the theme within the reading
portrays a woman’s lack of freedom in the 19th century. The fundamental
rights of women were infringed upon in order to cater to the needs of their husband
thus making women look and feel powerless. In this time period, readers are introduced
a woman named Mrs. Mallard, who was able to gain a sense of freedom but still
lost everything. The Story of an Hour is
seen from a feminist focal point, suggesting a relation to liberation and
social conformity, self-identity in a male dominated society and, the
interference with a woman’s free will.
the expectations regarding women and their responsibilities have changed drastically.
The struggle with conforming to societal standards often pushes women to dream
of create a new life due to the victimization of their freedom and happiness. The
story displays a clear sign of the liberation Mrs. Mallard felt with the news
of her husband (Aslan, 2017): “Free, free, free!” Mrs. Mallard repeated to
herself, as it was clear that the death of her husband was a relief (Chopin,
23). Mrs. Mallard even takes her new sense of freedom to the extent of
understanding that she will now be able to “live for herself” (Chopin, 24)
since she is widowed. Towards the ending of the story Mrs. Mallard also seems
liberated when she overcomes her dilemma of life and death: “… ‘I am not making
myself ill’ … she Mrs. Mallard was drinking in a very elixir of life …”
(Chopin, 24). Moreover, before her death, Mrs. Mallard had spent her day
praying and dreaming of her new life as a “free” woman.
the new-found liberation Mrs. Mallard experienced, pushed her to find herself
despite how difficult that was for women back in the 1800’s. Chopin does a good
job at allowing readers to understand just how important freedom and
self-identity was for Mrs. Mallard. She spends time thinking to herself about
how she’s going to be able to start living life as a “new woman”. Chopin
supports this idea by explaining how “there would be no powerful will bending
her Mallard in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they
have the right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” (Chopin, 24). This
quote is particularly important to the because it signifies the relationship
the story has to feminism and shortly after is followed by a supporting
statement that reads: “What could love … count for in face of this obsession of
self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her
being. (Chopin, 24)” It was ironic that Mallard only felt such an extensive
grasp of freedom after her husband’s spurious death. Conjointly, it is indeed clarified
that Mrs. Mallard had some love for her husband, but it was apparent that no
love between a man and a woman could contribute to a woman’s sense of self.
feminism comes freedom and more explicitly, free-will.