The Story of an Hour Summary

  • Last updated on March 25, 2021
"infobox Book "
name The Story of an Hour
image
image caption TaleBlazers edition
author Kate Chopin
country America
language English language
genre(s) Short story
publisher TaleBlazers
release date 1894
media type Paperback
pages 32
isbn
078915479X
Kate Chopin's classic short piece The Story of an Hour is an important feminist work highlighting the freedom desired by women during the19th century and the fact that most of them would unfortunately not experience this freedom except upon the death of their husbands.

Character Summaries

Mrs. Mallard

The protagonist of the story. She experiences a moment of hope for a future filled with freedom when she hears of her husband's passing. She is so shocked to see him alive at the end of the story that she dies of a heart attack.

Brently Mallard

The husband of Mrs. Mallard's husband. It is believed that he has been killed in a railroad accident, but this later turns out to be incorrect.

Josephine

Mrs. Mallard's sister, who tells her of the news of her husband's passing.

Richards

The friend of Brently Mallard.

Plot Summary

Mrs. Mallard, who has been suffering with heart trouble is told the news of her husband’s death by her sister Josephine, in the company of her deceased husband’s friend, Richards.

Brently Mallard, Mrs. Mallard’s husband, has been killed in a railroad accident. Mrs. Mallard responds to this news differently to most women – she accepts it immediately, weeping immediately as well, before retiring to her room alone.

Alone in her room, Mrs. Mallard observes the new Spring growth of trees, the freshness of rain in the air, the fact that life goes on as usual. The new growth of Spring symbolizes a new beginning, as Mallard’s death brings Mrs. Mallard a new start in her own life.

It is not so much that Mrs. Mallard’s relationship with her husband was particularly negative, more so that with his passing she is free of any man’s influence, both good or bad. As Chopin writes in the story:

"There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which mean and women believe they have a right to impose a prove will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination (2)."

Mrs. Mallard is happy to be free, happy to be able to “live for herself”, enjoying “soring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own.”

However, in a surprise twist it is revealed that Mrs. Mallard’s husband has survived the accident, and it is Mrs. Mallard who passes away, of “heart disease – of joy that kills.”

Categories: Short Stories
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