Kate Chopin's Short Stories

What is Kate Chopin saying about the status of women in the 18th century? Give specific examples from text.

the story called "Story Of An Hour" by Kate Chopin

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Many of the inner conflicts faced by Chopin's heroines are essentially issues of autonomy, in which the protagonist attempts to gain or regain an aspect of control in her life. Most notably, in "The Story of an Hour," Louise Mallard recognizes that the death of her husband and the subsequent breaking of the marriage tie will leave her an independent woman who is beholden to no one in her actions. Nevertheless, Chopin sometimes shows that these moments of freedom can be extremely tenuous or temporary, as Mrs. Mallard discovers when her husband returns home uninjured.

Chopin presents Mrs. Mallard as a sympathetic character with strength and insight. As Louise understands the world, to lose her strongest familial tie is not a great loss so much as an opportunity to move beyond the "blind persistence" of the bondage of personal relationships. In particular, American wives in the late nineteenth century were legally bound to their husbands' power and status, but because widows did not bear the responsibility of finding or following a husband, they gained more legal recognition and often had more control over their lives. Although Chopin does not specifically cite the contemporary second-class situation of women in the text, Mrs. Mallard's exclamations of "Free! Body and soul free!" are highly suggestive of the historical context.