Feminism isdefined as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality betweenmen and women.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2017) In The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, the theme within the readingportrays a woman’s lack of freedom in the 19th century.
The fundamentalrights of women were infringed upon in order to cater to the needs of their husbandthus making women look and feel powerless. In this time period, readers are introduceda woman named Mrs. Mallard, who was able to gain a sense of freedom but stilllost everything. The Story of an Hour isseen from a feminist focal point, suggesting a relation to liberation andsocial conformity, self-identity in a male dominated society and, theinterference with a woman’s free will. Over time,the expectations regarding women and their responsibilities have changed drastically.The struggle with conforming to societal standards often pushes women to dreamof create a new life due to the victimization of their freedom and happiness. Thestory displays a clear sign of the liberation Mrs. Mallard felt with the newsof her husband (Aslan, 2017): “Free, free, free!” Mrs.
Mallard repeated toherself, 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 ofunderstanding 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 seemsliberated when she overcomes her dilemma of life and death: “… ‘I am not makingmyself ill’ … she Mrs.
Mallard was drinking in a very elixir of life …”(Chopin, 24). Moreover, before her death, Mrs. Mallard had spent her daypraying and dreaming of her new life as a “free” woman. Surroundingthe new-found liberation Mrs. Mallard experienced, pushed her to find herselfdespite how difficult that was for women back in the 1800’s.
Chopin does a goodjob at allowing readers to understand just how important freedom andself-identity was for Mrs. Mallard. She spends time thinking to herself abouthow she’s going to be able to start living life as a “new woman”. Chopinsupports this idea by explaining how “there would be no powerful will bendingher Mallard in that blind persistence with which men and women believe theyhave the right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” (Chopin, 24). Thisquote is particularly important to the because it signifies the relationshipthe story has to feminism and shortly after is followed by a supportingstatement that reads: “What could love … count for in face of this obsession ofself-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of herbeing. (Chopin, 24)” It was ironic that Mallard only felt such an extensivegrasp of freedom after her husband’s spurious death.
Conjointly, it is indeed clarifiedthat Mrs. Mallard had some love for her husband, but it was apparent that nolove between a man and a woman could contribute to a woman’s sense of self. Alongsidefeminism comes freedom and more explicitly, free-will.