Kate Chopin's Short Stories

Setting in Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”

Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour is a feminist parable criticizing the romantic ideal of "true love" and the benefits of marriage. Chopin presents her critique of marriage by using the final hour in the life of Louise Mallard, whose joyful response to her husband's supposed death conveys the idea that freedom is more important than love. Chopin expresses this theme in the narrative when Louise realizes that she will be freed in the absence of her husband: "what could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being" (175). Chopin uses her story's setting to reinforce the direct characterization of Louise as a woman who desperately wants to be free, suggesting that marriage is a kind of prison, and that a married person is not unlike a prisoner. The story's symbolic setting conveys the absence of freedom in Louise's marriage, her intense feelings of emotional rebirth, and her sudden shock at her husband's return.

The story's extremely confined setting helps to convey Louise's restricted life in her marriage with her husband, Brently. The entire story takes place within...

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