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The Ugly Truth of Marriage in Kate Chopin's "the Story of an Hour"

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The Ugly Truth of Marriage in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"

Marriage is supposed to be love. An everlasting love for one another, someone to happily spend the rest of your life with . To be widowed is considered a tragedy, a terrible loss. In "The Story of an Hour" however, Kate Chopin presents an adverse view of marriage, one involving subjugation and confinement, through her description of Mrs. Mallard's last hour of life and the conflicting emotions that she faces.

When Mrs. Mallard first learns of the accident that that took her husband's life, she is heartbroken and begins to weep. When she goes to her room alone though and is in the privacy of the four walls a new emotion hit her. Not by choice though it is said to "come creeping out of the sky" towards her. (Chopin par. 9) We begin to see how overjoyed she is when Chopin says "she did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her." (Chopin par. 11) Through the way we see marriage today (love, holy matrimony etc) Mrs. Mallard's happiness would be considered extremely inappropriate. If you view marriage the way Chopin presents it however, it is clear why Mrs. Mallard feels this way.

Mrs. Mallard sees her husband's death as an opportunity, a chance at freedom. "Free, body and soul free." (Chopin par. 14) Rather than continuing to live a life that belonged to someone else she would now be able to live freely. She could do what she pleased whenever she pleased. She would no longer be battling the other "powerful will" that had before blindly bent her own. "...She saw... a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely." (Chopin par. 11) This shows that she felt trapped in her marriage, confined. The compromising and sacrifice that comes with being married is referred to as a crime.

More than love, marriage, or anything else she longed for the "possession of self-assertion". (Chopin par. 13) Before Mr. Mallard's death his wife had secretly shuddered at the thought of living a long time in the place she was at- as a married woman. But with his death she was released and she prayed that her life may be long to enjoy every bit of her newfound freedom. Life suddenly had new meaning to her now that she was not bound to the confines of marriage. "What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being." (Chopin par. 13)

The strongest part of the essay that gives the reader the idea that marriage is something awful is the way Chopin used symbolism in the setting of the story. "The tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life" is symbolic of a positive new beginning. The song of the sparrows, the blue sky and the "delicious



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