The Theme of Freedom in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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Words: 685 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jan 28, 2021

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Words: 685|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jan 28, 2021

The Theme Of Freedom In The Story Of An Hour By Kate Chopin
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Kate Chopin's short story, "The Story of an Hour," explores the theme of unrealized freedom through the lens of characterization and irony. The narrative delves into the complex emotions that arise when freedom unexpectedly dawns, only to be swiftly extinguished.

Characterization plays a pivotal role in conveying the transformation of Mrs. Mallard. Her character evolves significantly as she grapples with the sudden realization of freedom. The story employs irony to underscore the situation's complexity. While Mrs. Mallard initially fixates on her husband's death, the world outside her window is bursting with life, creating a stark contrast. The gift of freedom allows Mrs. Mallard to further develop her character. Although she cherished her husband, the allure of newfound freedom becomes irresistible.

In "The Story of an Hour," freedom is depicted as a precious but fleeting gift. Chopin uses irony to reveal the stark contrast between appearances and reality, while characterization illuminates Mrs. Mallard's transformation in the face of unexpected freedom. Ultimately, the story underscores the idea that freedom should be cherished, even if it is brief and elusive.

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In life, people can sometimes feel like they are held back, then once they are free they are filled with joy, only to be brought back down again by not suspecting anything taking it away. In the short story “The Story of an Hour” where Kate Chopin illustrates how freedom can be exciting, but it may not last long for some. In the “Story of an Hour” Kate Chopin presents the theme of unrealized freedom but not until it is too late in the literary devices if characterization and irony.

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Mr. Mallard talks a lot about his lack of actual freedom in the opening monologue of The Story of an Hour. The thought of the husband now not believing his wife comes to the fore in this story in phrases of situational irony. From Webster’s New World College Dictionary, we get this definition: Freedom is stated to be the absence of need, or of restraint, in the presence of either free will or compulsion. Mrs. Mallard felt liberated after she had heard that her husband had died.

The characterization of Mrs. Mallard is shown through the freedom she experiences. Now that Mrs. Mallard has freedom in the midst of her husband’s death and now that he is gone “she would live for herself”. Before the supposed death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard may have been held back and kept away from her true character by her husband. Her new freedom would let her live her life, without anyone doing it for her. After the idea of freedom fully set into her mind, she came out of her room and “carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory”. Mrs. Mallard felt like she had finally won her freedom and did not have to worry about what others thought of her. She could now live her life the way she intended and let herself grow into this new aspect of her life. The gift of freedom has changed Mrs. Mallard’s character and outlook on her new life.

In the short story, the sense of freedom helps illustrate the irony of the situation. After being saddened by her husband’s death, she could see “trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life”. Mrs. Mallard is not yet fully aware of the freedom that is around her because she is still too focused on the death of her husband. The situation is ironic because of all the happiness and everything filled with life outside her window, while she has just lost someone in her life. When Mr. Mallard ends up being alive, Mrs. Mallard is at a loss for words and she “died of a heart disease – of joy that kills”. Even though the doctors say she dies of happiness but to the reader that is not true. She had died from realizing her freedom would be gone again, which she only had for a short time. The situation that takes place in the story has a sense of irony that gives way to the idea of freedom.

The gift of freedom has now let Mrs. Mallard expand in her character. With her husband gone, even though she loved him, she did not think it counted with this “self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!”. Mrs. Mallard cared deeply for her husband, but she loved freedom more because it was new and exciting, which she never had experienced before. The future freedom she will have will improve her character, but she will still remember the past life she had with her husband. When Mrs. Mallard is up in her room she is “drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window”. Mrs. Mallard takes in all the freedom she finally has in her life and takes in every moment of this. Beyond her window is a new life for herself and dreams of all that she could become when she was not free to do what she wanted. Her character can now grow even more with this new gift of freedom.

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Freedom can be what everyone wishes to have, but some may have it taken away not suspecting it. In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” she uses irony by showing the reader one point of view while the character in the story experiences an entirely different situation and uses characterization to bring out the change in the character once introduced to the idea of freedom. From the story, freedom is shown to be found when one least expects it and savors it while it lasts. Freedom should be experienced by everyone, even if it only lasts a short time.

Works Cited

  1. Chopin, K. (1894). The Story of an Hour. Vogue, 23(1), 1-2.
  2. (n.d.). Freedom. In Unabridged. Retrieved from
  3. Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Freedom. In dictionary. Retrieved from
  4. Berkove, L. (2000). Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour". American Literary Realism, 32(2), 152-158.
  5. Taylor, H. (1994). Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour": A Feminist Reading. The Mississippi Quarterly, 47(4), 527-536.
  6. Toth, E. W. (1994). Chopin's "The Story of an Hour". The Explicator, 52(1), 22-23.
  7. Papke, M. (1995). Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour": A Response to Feminist Criticism. The Southern Literary Journal, 27(2), 42-50.
  8. Halliburton, D. (2002). Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour. Explicator, 60(4), 211-213.
  9. Niederhoff, B. (2014). Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour". In B. Niederhoff (Ed.), A Companion to American Short Story (pp. 159-169). John Wiley & Sons.
  10. Berkove, L. (2003). Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour". In S. M. Gilbert & S. Gubar (Eds.), The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Tradition in English (3rd ed., pp. 1104-1108). W.W. Norton & Company.
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The introduction provides sufficient background for the topic and has a strong thesis statement. The body has been divided according to the main points; however, none of the evidence used has been cited. The conclusion provides the overall essence of the essay and revisits the thesis statement. Few errors in grammar and punctuation were identified. The sentence structure in some instances was awkward, which made these sentences difficult to understand.

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The Theme Of Freedom In The Story Of An Hour By Kate Chopin. (2022, April 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
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