Literary Analysis of The Story of an Hour
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is a crisp short story written with an exceptional sense of dark humor blended with a touch of heartrending human emotions.
On a quick glance at the entire story, my initial understanding of the entire narration was shocking, with mixed reactions. I wasn’t sure why Louise dies at the end. Of course, it was clear that she dies of the heart problem she suffered from, but after all she has been through, she dies as she sees her husband alive. I initially concluded that she dies of excessive happiness on seeing him alive; she is freed from the pain of lonely thoughts she has been through.But as the story sank deeper into my mind, I had to think about it more.
I started digging in deeper, trying to evaluate if she really dies out of joy of seeing him alive, or is it a sharp sarcasm when the author writes, “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills. ” (Chopin). As per my comprehension of the story, everybody, including the doctor, believes that Louise dies out of joy but the underlying truth is that she is not able to put up with the thoughts of living with him again, after having felt the sense of freedom.The early part of the story that caught my attention is when Louise sits in the comfortable armchair, openly enjoying the freedom knocking at her door. She seems to be taking pleasures in very minute parts of our daily lives; things she probably has been ignoring before.
She enjoys the moistness of the rain in the air, the songs being sung somewhere far, the twittering of sparrows and the clean blue sky with patches of clouds. She sees freedom in the eyes of nature. She feels the freedom gripping her and entering into her body.She also realizes that she would cry at the sight of her dead husband’s body but is not ashamed of feeling the joy that has entered within her. This clearly depicts that Louise has been feeling trapped within her small life and with the news of her husband’s death, she feels that she can finally be free. She does miss him and she also weeps for his death but she isn’t guilt ridden for enjoying her happiness over her own sense of freedom.
The quote, “She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free! “” (Chopin) shows how excited she feels at the thought of her freedom.Another particular event that evokes doubt is when Louise glorifies the thought of living alone for the years ahead to come. She feels happy by the thought of not being bound by anybody else and living her life just for herself. The author poses Louise’s character as someone trapped in a marriage for long years without trying to fight it.
The quote, “And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not. ” (Chopin) clearly indicates that she has been leading a married life without much love for her husband. There are times when she had loved him, but most of the others, she hadn’t.And the more she thinks about the days she spent with her husband, the more she feels happy; with the thought of her impending independence. The entire event seems to have awakened her inner self that was ambushed within her body, waiting for someone to lift the lid.
Her husband’s death does exactly what she has been wanting, but probably wasn’t aware of it. She welcomes the thought of living alone, with freedom and a sudden illumination within her lightens up. Louise again and again cries out in excitement of being alone and living in a sense joy.She seems to be enjoying the sudden event which others consider as a catastrophe on her.
When Josephine begs Louise to open the door, being hassled over Louise’s health, Louise calms her down by saying that she is fine and there is no reason for her to be ill. Louise sees the breath of fresh air as a soothing drink and it is because she feels happy and content by heart. She starts imagining the days of freedom that lies ahead of her. She remembers how she has loathed her life when she was with her husband; she has been dreaded by the fact of living a long life.
But now, she chants a small prayer, wishing for a longer life. Her thoughts wander around, thinking about the beautiful days amidst the lovely seasons of nature. It clearly indicates how she has been despising her dull life before and how the incident has changed her thoughts and the way she perceives her life. “There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. ” (Chopin) This indicates how Louise feels confident and satisfied with herself as she walks out of the room.
She seems enlightened and feels an immense sense of victory, as if she has won her fight with life. This exemplifies her resentment towards the way she has been leading her life all along. And the event has given her a chance to make things right for her. After a thorough consideration on all the factors discussed above, I deduced to the fact that Louise doesn’t die out of sheer joy. She is very happy with the thought of finally leading a life for herself, without her husband and a life without any sort of obligations. Louise certainly feels shocked to see her husband alive but the shock is obviously not a positive one.
As she has prepared herself for a calm and long life with complete freedom, she hasn’t been anticipating on seeing him alive. When she finds out that she is being pulled back into the life filled with the same responsibilities and compromises, her heart breaks out of anguish and it gives up, she dies. The author shows a dark sarcasm by the words “joy that kills” at the end of the story. As the doctor and others assume that Louise dies of a heart attack, due to immense joy, the real truth gets buried within Louise’s heart.