Two Old Women
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In the Deep South women were always known of as housewives. They were not given individual identities but rather a collective personality that all women possessed. Kate Chopin uses this theme of the individuality of women in all of her short stories and other writings. In The Story of An Hour, Chopin expresses this very well, using the character Louise Mallard. As in ChopinÐ²Ð‚™s typical stories, Louise Mallard is a woman looking for her inner self and thinks she found it but goes through a hard time and attempts to overcome it while having a positive outlook on life. However, through her marriage she has been a patient, self-sacrificing, restless woman who believed she was given a chance to change her life around for the better, which ultimately led to her demise.
Louise Mallard has been married to Brently Mallard for quite some time. She has become sick of the standard routine lifestyle that she has been sucked into, the stay at home wife with no excitement. She has no job, very little friends and lives with just her husband. Mrs. Mallard was given news one day about her husband and a railroad accident. The opening sentence which states, Ð²Ð‚ÑšKnowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husbandÐ²Ð‚™s deathÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, sums up what the short story is about. Louise has had a heart condition for a while and the news of her husbandÐ²Ð‚™s death was told to her in the softest way possible so she would not have her heart cause any further complications. LouiseÐ²Ð‚™s sister, Josephine told her of the disastrous news and Louise immediately fell weeping in tears in her sisterÐ²Ð‚™s arms. She realized after thinking about the whole situation that her love for her husband was not as strong as she thought it was. This lack of love for her husband can be better seen when Chopin writes, Ð²Ð‚ÑšAnd yet she had loved him-sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter!Ð²Ð‚Ñœ These thoughts have been racing through LouiseÐ²Ð‚™s head for a while and this situation has made her finally come to terms with how unhappy her life really has been.
Not only has Louise been patient and unhappy through her life and marriage but self-sacrificing as well. Ð²Ð‚ÑšShe was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Her inner spirit wanted something else other than to be trapped in the life she has been living. Louise always wanted something more in her life but was too self-sacrificing to pursue her own dreams. This can be better understood when Chopin tells about more of LouiseÐ²Ð‚™s inner thoughts, Ð²Ð‚ÑšHer fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer Days, and all sorts of days that would be her own.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Louise has become very anxious and optimistic for what her new life is going to be like without her husband and total freedom. Her hopes and prayers have finally been answered once in her life and wishes that she can have days that would be her own all the way into her older years. Louise wishes one more thing before she begins her new life, Ð²Ð‚ÑšShe breathed a quick prayer that life might be long.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ This better explains how unhappy she has been and probably almost suicidal at times. Now with this independence from her husband and housewife responsibilities, she wants her life to be as prolonged as possible to enjoy these free spirited times she has with herself.
Louise MallardÐ²Ð‚™s restlessness with herself and her lifestyle transformed her into a less emotional person. Surprisingly the grief and sorrow that overwhelmed her departed quite quick and she soon realized what the death of her husband meant, freedom. The first time she comprehended this sense of freedom was right after she was given the news of her husbandÐ²Ð‚™s death. Ð²Ð‚ÑšWhen she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: Ð²Ð‚?free, free, free!Ð²Ð‚™Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Mrs. Mallard had an epiphany on her outlook on life. The freedom that she always wanted and the freedom that she had when she was married were at two different ends of the spectrum. Louise continues to have this revelation of freedom and persists on telling herself of this new found liberty, Ð²Ð‚ÑšÐ²Ð‚™Free!