Reader Response Essay on 'The Story of an Hour'

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“The Story of an Hour” is a very famous short story by Kate Chopin, published in 1894. This story is one of the earliest pieces of feminist writing in American literature and links up with the awareness of women’s rights and the female position in society. The protagonist of this story is Mrs. Louise Mallard, who has just been informed of the death of her husband. After hearing the news, her reaction was incredulous. It is very predictable that a woman who has just lost her husband will be completely shut down and lose her balance, but when she arrives alone in her room in private, she begins to feel free and relieved. The feeling that overtakes her in the private confines is one of hope, freedom, and self-identity. These are the kinds of realizations that Mrs. Louise Mallard’s heart was experiencing, and these are the themes that the author is trying to convey in this story. Because more than a wife, she was a woman first. The feeling of realization that now she has the right to speak for herself and live for herself. That is what she is actually celebrating, the celebration of her own rights as a woman.

After hearing about Bentley’s death, the first instant reaction of Mrs. Louis was shocked and broke down, but when she came into her room alone her reaction was unbelievable. Instead of being so sad, she starts to feel so free and relieved. She looked out, and suddenly her sensibility became so heightened and sharpened that she could hear birds singing and the sound of the twittering of birds. Her surroundings mirror her newfound freedom in this scene. That means her sensibility has awakened, which contrasts with her grieving nature. She hopes that something positive will come. She still has a hope to move on and live her life freely.

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We see Mrs. Mallard has heart disease, which was not a reflection of a happy relationship. He was a kind man, but she still felt bound and restricted by him. So Bentley’s death is a kind of freedom for her. That is why, when she heard of her husband’s death, she did not feel the same way. In the privacy of her room, she experiences a sense of freedom that she is free from the boundaries of marriage. This is because of the very repressive nature of marital relationships, especially in a male-dominant society. So after hearing the news of her husband’s death, she realized that she was finally breaking out of it and could live freely for her own self.

Furthermore, we see that women are always in a dominant position in a male-dominated society. In this story, Mrs. Mallard’s strange feelings are a reflection of an unhappy relationship. The feeling of being free and also the metaphorical description of her inner state of mind reflect her inability to express herself as an individual in the relationship. While she was in a relationship, she never realized who she was as a woman or what her rights were. Her relationship was more like a selfless relationship where she could not express herself as an individual. Mrs. Mallard realized that only when the news of her husband’s death came to her. These realizations encourage her to move forward and seek her own happiness because she is a woman first, more than someone’s wife.

Finally, we see that Mr. Bentley loves his wife, but she is unhappy because she feels dependent, unequal, and burdened in this marital relationship. Marriage is not about being together, but it involves something far deeper, which began with respect, sharing, and equal responsibility for each other.

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Reader Response Essay on ‘The Story of an Hour’. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/reader-response-essay-on-the-story-of-an-hour/
“Reader Response Essay on ‘The Story of an Hour’.” Edubirdie, 15 Nov. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/reader-response-essay-on-the-story-of-an-hour/
Reader Response Essay on ‘The Story of an Hour’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/reader-response-essay-on-the-story-of-an-hour/> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Reader Response Essay on ‘The Story of an Hour’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Nov 15 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/reader-response-essay-on-the-story-of-an-hour/
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