Photo Credit: ~Zoe~ (Flickr)
by Darryl Scott
“Nothing false and possible is love
(who`s imagined, therefore limitless)
love`s to giving as to keeping`s give; as yes is to if,
love is to yes.”
“The Story of an Hour,” written by Kate Chopin, showcases Louise Mallard`s reaction to the news of her husband`s death. Her emotions transition from grief to joy as she begins to believe herself free from the assertion of Mr. Mallard, until she discovers him alive in the doorway. Due to her heart troubles, the shock of the revelation kills her. Mrs. Mallard believed her husband to have treated her kindly and justly, but she viewed their marriage as him imposing his will upon her, a crime against her being, even if it was committed with benign intention. While Chopin`s story builds upon the theme of repression, it also comments on marriage. The Mallards` marriage suggests that many portrayals of love are false, representations of selfish will masked in seemingly benign actions intended to advance the wishes of one`s own self. The notion of love in society and marriage is corrupted by self-assertion and private wants.
Mrs. Mallard, through the death of her husband, discovers that she believes free will to be rooted at the core of her desires. She dismisses the notion of love in favor of satisfying her own wants, choosing to live only for herself. She also views her marriage as a constriction of her freedom, and comes to feel that she did not love her husband. Instead, she merely coped with his impositions upon her, however kind they may have seemed. While Mrs. Mallard believed the actions of her husband drove them apart, her own desires cause her to resent her husband, her fervent determination to govern her own life leading to the repudiation of the covenant she may have once entered into willingly. Chopin suggests, disguised in the revelation of Mrs. Mallard, that selfish interests corrupt the pure aspects of love and marriage, warping a bond traditionally described as self-sacrificing and giving into an extension of the individual`s own wishes. Love, the original catalyst of the relationship, is lost in the will “with which men and women believe they have a right to impose… upon a fellow creature”. This is Mrs. Mallard`s heart disease, the joy that kills being the joy reaped from resigning herself over to her own interests, forsaking compassion and love.
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