Kate Chopin wrote stories of women in different states of independence from the men in their lives. She felt strongly about feminism and wanted women to be liberated from the dependence of men. By looking at Chopin’s stories we can see how the characters longed to be strong and independent women. In “The Story of an Hour”, when Mrs. Mallard hears of her husbands death she feels liberated and is described as:
When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: ‘free, free, free!’ The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body. (Woodlief, online)
Just from this short quote, one can see the independence she wanted the women in her stories to feel without having a man in their lives.
Kate Chopin was born in 1850, Kate O'Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri to Eliza and Thomas O'Flaherty. She was the third of five children, but her sisters died in infancy and her brothers, from her father’s first marriage, died in their early twenties. She was the only child in her family to live past the age of twenty-five. In 1867, Chopin started to keep a journal of poems, essays, sketches, criticism and more. From 1869-1870 Chopin attended debutante parties, learned to smoke, and wrote her first story, "Emancipation: A Life Fable," which is a short story about freedom and restriction. In 1870, at the age of twenty, she married Oscar Chopin, who was twenty-five, and the son of a wealthy cotton-growing family in Louisiana. (Wyatt, online)
From 1871-1878 Chopin had five sons, Jean, Oscar Charles, George, Frederick, and Felix. Oscar Charles was a trained cartoonist for the San Francisco Examiner and his daughter Kate, was an artist. In 1889 Chopin published her first poem, "If It Might Be," in the United States and wrote four stories, all of which were published. “The Story of an Hour”, written on April 19, 1894, was first published in Vogue magazine on December 6, 1894, under the title "The Dream of an Hour"(Wyatt, online). It was reprinted in St. Louis Life on January 5, 1895. (The Story of an Hour, online)
“The Story of an Hour”, describes the different emotions Louise Mallard feels after hearing about her husband, who was thought to have died in a train accident. Mrs. Mallard suffers from heart problems therefore her sister, Josephine, tries to tell her of the terrible news in a soft way. Mrs. Mallard locks herself in her room to immediately grieve over the loss of her husband. However, she begins to feel an unexpected feeling of happiness. "Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body." (Woodlief, online) At the end of the story, we are told that her husband was not killed in the train accident and when he returns home, Mrs. Mallard drops dead. The cause of her death is uncertain and left for us...