Monday, March 1, 2010

Freedom within Love

Is there no Freedom within love? Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin is about a women, whom has heart trouble, is told of her husband's death. Upon hearing the news, Louise Mallard is first stricken with sadness, but begins to realize a freedom.

Louise locks herself in her room and begins to cry, but then notices the new spring life in the forest of tees. As she is sitting sobbing quietly to herself she begins to feel an emotion overtake her. At first she is afraid and unsure as to what it is, but it begins to come to her from the sky, coming from the sounds, scents, and color upon the air. The possession of emotion upon Mrs. Mallard is a strange one. Filling her to the brim, she is first filled with terror, and then overflowing with the emotion, she begins to repeat the word free.

Overcome with a "monstrous joy", she begins to look into the future; a future that is hers alone to live. A future where "no powerful will [will] bend her [own] in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature." She then remembers that she loved him, although sometimes not; but that is love.

Louise was "drinking in the very elixir of life." She had finally begun to live for herself; but it was a monstrous freedom, and when she discovers her husband is alive, the shock and loss of that freedom lead to her sudden death. It is hard to tell if it was the very freedom, or the imprisonment that returns that was her demise. On one hand, the freedom was too much for her to bear, but on the other hand, the imprisonment of that freedom could no longer contain her.

Story of an Hour is a commentary on that oppression of the women in the home; the imposing of right upon the woman by her husband. The freedom was monstrous, but maybe it was more normal than not? Is this short story a satire? Are we meant to despise the husband? Or simply pity Louise for not being free?