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    A Literary Analysis of the Interpretation in the Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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    Most people interpret Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” as a woman needing to be free from the oppressiveness of marriage and the gender roles placed on her by society; however, Li Chongyue and Wang Lihua’s article offer a different interpretation in their article, “A Caricature of an Ungrateful and Unfaithful Wife —A New Interpretation of “The Story of an Hour.” While I do believe that maybe Mrs. Mallard was a little ungrateful for the love that her husband obviously showed her, I completely disagree with Chongyue and Lihua’s thoughts about the author, Mrs. Mallard’s motives, and the secret affair.

    In their article, Chongyue and Lihua comment that the interpretation of a literary work normally begins with an introduction of its author. They usually do, and with good reason. Chongyue and Lihua say, “I think that a literary work can be interpreted without considering who the author is. Once the work is finished, the author ‘dies’. The more a reader knows about the writer, especially a so-called great writer, the more liable he or she is to exaggerate the value of the writer’s literary work which is poorly written. A lack of information about the author and previous studies of his or her works is, in some cases, helpful to a creative understanding of the literary works.” (Chongyue and Lihua). I couldn’t disagree more! To fully understand an author’s work, the reader needs to understand the author. The reader needs to know what was going on in the world, in society, and in the author’s life at the time he or she wrote the literary work.

    Chengyu and Lihua’s belief in that the author doesn’t matter is how they got Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” so wrong. They explained, “…..I didn’t know who Kate Chopin was, let alone that she was a feminist writer. I knew, indeed, nothing about her at that time…” (Chongyue and Lihua). They did not know that during the time that “The Story of an Hour” was written that women were expected to get married, stay at home and cook and clean, have and raise children, and do what their husbands told them to do. In ““The Story of an Hour,” because of Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble her sister and her husband’s friend, Richards, rush to her side and break the news of the husband’s death very gently; Chopin is symbolically demonstrating how women and especially wives were perceived as weak creatures who need to be handled carefully, almost like children.

    Society denied women the freedom to be a person with an identity and a sense of self. They were not allowed to have ideas, but to just support and follow their husband’s ideas. A complete knowledge of the issues facing women would have helped Chongyue and Lihua realize that many women had the same torn emotions about marriage and freedom during that time. That would lead them to a better understanding of Chopin’s literary work. Chongyue and Lihua seem to believe that if Mrs. Mallard had just had the guts to do so she would have murdered Mr. Mallard. They comment several times on Mrs. Mallard wanting to get rid of her husband. “Maybe Mrs. Mallard wanted to break the bondage of marriage by getting rid of her husband…….” or “Her desire to get rid of her husband…….” (Chongyue and Lihua). They think that Mrs. Mallard was not sad or grieved at all and that this is what she has wanted all along.

    They state, “When Josephine knelt before the closed door and implored her to open the door and not to make herself ill, Mrs. Mallard replied: ‘Go away. I am not making myself ill.’ This shows that she didn’t feel grieved at all. ‘She was drinking in the very elixir of life’-her wishful thinking of her future life” (Chongyue and Lihua). At that moment, she was thinking of her future life, but Mrs. Mallard also said, “She knew she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death” (Chopin 426). This statement obviously shows that Mrs. Mallard did care very much for Mr. Mallard and knew she would grieve for him. In their article Chongyue and Lihua state, “When she looked out of the window and gazed at ‘one of those patches of blue sky’, she was aware that ‘there was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully.’ What’s the something that she couldn’t wait to enjoy?”

    Mrs. Mallard did not know what she was waiting for and she was scared at what might be coming because she, simply, had never let herself entertain these thoughts and feelings before. The fact that Mrs. Mallard initially burst into tears and that the feeling of freedom came slowly supports the idea that Mrs. Mallard had never contemplated life without a husband. Had she been dreaming of getting rid of her husband, she would have felt immediate relief and happiness at news of his death. Women of that era were raised to have a husband and most were not aware of a desire to be free and independent until the moment they realized they were. In their interpretation, Chongyue and Lihua also theorize a couple of ideas that have no evidence and can’t be supported by the story. “Maybe she wanted to break the bondage of marriage by getting rid of her husband or by an extramarital love.

    This is not my random guess. My assumption is supported by some readers who think that the theme of the story is an unsuccessful extramarital affair between Mrs. Mallard and her husband’s friend Richards” (Chongyue and Lihua) shows that their theory is that Mrs. Mallard was having or wanted to have an affair. However, support by the opinions of other readers is not evidence that the author intended an affair. Another one of Chongyue and Lihua’s theories is that Mrs. Mallard only married Mr. Mallard for his money. Although Chongyue and Lihua theorize that “Mrs. Mallard married him mainly for the purpose of living an easy and comfortable life with him” (Chongyue and Lihua) there is no evidence found in the story to support that claim. The story mentions items that indicate the Mallard’s are well off financially, but doesn’t state that the money was a factor in their marriage.

    Li Chongyue and Wang Lihua’s article, “A Caricature of an Ungrateful and Unfaithful Wife -A New Interpretation of ‘The Story of an Hour” was not how I interpret Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” They believe Mrs. Mallard is just a mean and ungrateful wife because they didn’t learn about Kate Chopin’s life or about what was happening in society when she wrote “The Story of an Hour.” Chongyue and Lihua thought that Mrs. Mallard had wanted to get rid of her husband all along even thought there are multiple examples that prove otherwise. Finally, their theories on the affair between Mrs. Mallard and Richards and the reason why Mrs. Mallard married Mr. Mallard are unsupported in the text.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    A Literary Analysis of the Interpretation in the Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. (2022, Dec 01). Retrieved from

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