Sample Expository Essay: Marriage Views in Kate Chopin's Story of an Hour

EssayLiterature
Mar 7, 2022

An expository essay is written coursework which purpose is to explain a given topic. This essay may utilize various methods of explaining including description, illustration, narration, and enumeration among others. The goal is to give the reader a better understanding of the topic. This sample expository essay on literature explains the meaning behind Kate Chopin’s celebrated short fiction “The Story of an Hour.”

As Kate Chopin is widely regarded as one of the most important American authors of the 19th century, her works have been the subject of extensive study. Among these works that have garnered the attention of scholars, perhaps the most important is her short fiction entitled “The Story of an Hour.” The short piece follows Louise Mallard, a young wife who experiences a profound transformation after receiving news of her husband’s sudden death, only to succumb to death herself upon finding out that her husband has been alive all along. Despite its relative shortness in both words and the scope of its narrative, this story has attracted scrutiny and engendered debates regarding its meaning. While many interpretations have been forwarded by various scholars, the pervading belief among scholars still asserts that “The Story of an Hour” is a feminist commentary on the limitations imposed on women in the 19th century as evidenced by Louise’s sense of freedom from becoming a widow.

Firstly, it is evident that Chopin’s story is a feminist commentary in the way it associates Louise’s widowhood with freedom. To understand why this sense of liberation overcomes Louise in the moments after receiving news of her husband’s death, it is important to conduct a close reading of the text itself. The initial part of the story describes Louise’s immense grief in losing her husband. Her immediate reaction is characterized by “sudden, wild abandonment”, which can be taken as a natural and indeed expected response from someone who has just lost a loved one. But upon retreating into her room where she conducts deep reflection regarding her new situation, she eventually senses a feeling coming over her. The feeling seems to come from the outside of the room where it is teeming with life. This amorphous feeling then takes definite shape in the form of words: “She said it over and over under the breath: ‘free, free, free!’ The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body” (Chopin). There can be no doubt over Chopin’s intention in writing these lines. The conclusion Louise reaches after going through a period of contemplation is that she has found freedom, and this can only mean that losing her husband has given her a new lease in life. This interpretation is supported by Jamil in her essay “Emotions in the Story of an Hour.” In this close reading of the work, Jamil contends that while Louise’s reaction is more of an emotional response than a rational one, it can still be considered as Louise’s emancipation from a repressive marriage (Jamil 215-217). This interpretation aligns with this paper’s reading of the story.

The assertion that Chopin’s work is a feminist commentary on gender inequality in the 19th century is further reinforced by the imagery that surrounds Louise, which in turn can be taken as symbols for the life of freedom that lays ahead of her. The narrator describes how Louise “could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life.” It is no coincidence that the scene outside of Louise’s window is teeming with life, for it is a symbol of the new life that lies ahead of her: “Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own.” The symbolism lends credence to this paper’s thesis, especially when situated within the context of American society and its repressive gender roles. As Paudel asserts in his article, Chopin’s works are a keen observation of the American social structure. Utilizing the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir regarding gender relations, Paudel argues that Louise as a wife is the subject of the patriarchy whereas she gains a great degree of autonomy upon becoming a widow (Paudel 97-99).

The interpretation of Chopin’s story as a feminist work can only be completed by extending the idea beyond Louise’s case, and it is in this act of seeing the bigger picture that the assertion is further solidified. Louise can be regarded as the quintessential middle-class woman of the 19th century. While it is true that nothing in the story explicitly points to Louise being repressed by her husband, customary knowledge of 19th century gender relations serves as enough basis for assuming that life for Louise as a wife is difficult. As Karami and Zohdi note, 19th century American society was not exactly a picture of gender equality (431). Similar to the women in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, or for that matter Nora Helmer in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House , women in America were a distinct social class who had no access to education and employment. Norms that governed social class relations relegated them as wives and mothers whose power rarely extended beyond the domestic sphere. Indeed, Louise appears to be loved by all accounts, but being loved does not necessarily mean that she is also treated as an equal. If anything, gender relations at the time all but considered women as the property of men and therefore only rightfully governed by them (Karami and Zohdi 432). Chopin reveals this unpleasant reality by liberating Louise through widowhood: “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin). Hence, in speculating Louise’s marital life, it can be safely assumed that as a wife she is subject to her husband’s will, thus effectively depriving her of agency.

As shown in the discussion provided above, it is evident that Kate Chopin intended her most famous work of short fiction to be a commentary on the inequality of genders in 19th century society. As the quintessential woman of the 19th century, Louise is deprived of freedom in her married life. But the sudden death of her husband opens up new possibilities for her and offers a promise of a happier life. Juxtaposing the events in the story with the realities of gender roles and relations in Chopin’s own time reveals the true meaning of the work. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

While expository essays are commonly written in literature and composition classes, other types of expository essays may also be written. These include persuasive essays, argumentative essays, descriptive essays, process essays, and narrative essays . Of course, essays themselves are just the tip of the iceberg. Other classes also have their unique requirements. If you are too busy or too tired to do all these, let a professional writer from CustomEssayMeister help you. Simply place your order and relax as our expert writers do the heavy lifting.


Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Virginia Commonwealth University, https://archive.vcu.edu/english/engweb/webtexts/hour/. Accessed 6 March 2022.

Jamil, S. Selina. “Emotions in the Story of an Hour.” The Explicator, vol. 67, no. 4, 2009, pp. 215-220.

Karami, Negin and Esmaeil Zohdi. “Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour”: A Feminist Interpretation.” Research Journal of English Language and Literature, vol. 3, no. 3., 2015, pp. 430-435.

Paudel, Kishor. “Existential Angst in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour.” NCC Journal, vol. 4, no. 1, 2019, pp. 97-99. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/nccj.v4i1.24742

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