The Story of an Hour Summary

"The Story of an Hour Summary " is a short story written by Kate Chopin on April 19, 1894. It was originally published in Vogue on December 6, 1894, as "The Dream of an Hour". It was later reprinted in St. Louis Life on January 5, 1895, as "The Story of an Hour".

The title of the short story refers to the time elapsed between the moments at which the protagonist, Louise Mallard, hears that her husband, Brently Mallard, is dead, and then discovers that he is alive after all. Featuring a female protagonist who feels liberation at the news of her husband's death.


The Story of an Hour Summary
The Story of an Hour Summary


The Story of an Hour Summary

In the mid-1890s, in an undisclosed city, Mrs. Louise Mallard’s sister, Josephine, cautiously tells Louise of her husband Brently Mallard’s unexpected death. Although young, Louise has “heart trouble,” and Josephine does not want the bad news to adversely affect her sister’s health. Brently’s friend Richards works at the local newspaper, where a telegraph reporting a “railroad disaster” was first received, listing Brently as a casualty.

Richards confirmed the news of Brently’s death “by a second telegram” (Paragraph 2), before rushing to deliver the bad news to Louise so that she could hear it from a friendly source. Louise does not react with the stoic “inability to accept its significance” that the narrator suggests is expected (Paragraph 3) but immediately bursts into tears. Louise goes to her room and insists on being alone.

In her room, Louise sits before an open window, “pressed down by a physical exhaustion that […] seemed to reach into her soul” (Paragraph 4). Through the window, Louise sees the budding spring trees and smells the recent rain. She hears a street peddler, sparrows chirping, and someone singing in the distance. She notices the blue sky peeking through the dispersing rain clouds, and sits quietly, sobbing occasionally.

As Louise observes the scene through the window, she senses the realization of something “too subtle and elusive to name” (Paragraph 9). Her breath and pulse quicken, and Louise resists the thought forming in her mind. She gives into the feeling, and repeatedly whispers “free, free, free!” (Paragraph 11).

Louise’s fear and grief transform into joy and her heart beats faster. She considers that she will feel sad again, when she sees her husband’s body, but for the moment, Louise is preoccupied by thoughts of an independent, unmarried future. Louise delights in the idea that she will now “live for herself” (Paragraph 14), and thinks that even the love between her and her husband matters less than “this possession of self-assertion” (Paragraph 15).

On the other side of the locked door, Josephine begs Louise to let her into the room. Louise refuses and continues her reverie, imagining a long and liberated life as a widow. Eventually, Louise opens the door to Josephine and walks downstairs “like a goddess of Victory” (Paragraph 20). Richards waits for them at the bottom of the stairs.

Suddenly, Brently enters through the front door with his traveling case and umbrella; he was nowhere near the train accident. Brently is shocked by Josephine’s scream, and Richards tries but fails to hide Brently from Louise’s view. Later, doctors report that Louise “died of heart disease—of joy that kills” (Paragraph 23).

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Questions about The Story of an Hour Plot

What is the main meaning of The Story of an Hour?
“The Story of an Hour” reflects Chopin's view of the repressive role that marriage played in women's lives as the protagonist, Louise Mallard, feels immense freedom only when her husband has died. While he is alive, she must live for him, and only when he dies does her life once again become her own.

What happened at the end of The Story of an Hour summary?
readers can infer that Louise Mallard died of the grief of a freedom she never had, then found, then lost once more. Readers can interpret Louise's death as her experience of true grief in the story—that for her ideal life, briefly realized then snatched away.

What can you say about The Story of an Hour?
This is the story of a woman who finds out her husband has died in a train wreck. She reacts with sadness at first, but then realizes in a rush of emotion & relief that she is “Free! Body and soul free!” She views the world with a fresh outlook--one where she will be her own person, answering only to herself.

What is the irony of The Story of an Hour?
Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"--which takes only a few minutes to read--has an ironic ending: Mrs. Mallard dies just when she is beginning to live. On first reading, the ending seems almost too ironic for belief.

What is the climax of The Story of an Hour?
when Mrs. Mallord, though grieving, realizes that she is now free from a marriage in which she wasn't truly happy. So though she mourns the death of her husband, secretly she's elated.

What is the irony in The Story of an Hour joy that kills?
The title "The Joy that Kills" can be seen as the most accurate representation of what happens in the story. This title captures the irony of Mrs. Mallard's joy upon hearing of her husband's death, only to die from shock upon seeing him alive. It also emphasizes the fragility of life and the power of joy and freedom.

Why was Mrs. Mallard happy her husband died?
Mrs. Mallard was relieved that her husband died for she thought her sentence was over. When she realized that he was still alive, and therefore she was still committed to the marriage, she died from the shock and horror of being trapped.

What is the social issue of The Story of an Hour?
In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," the author primarily depicts the social issue of marriage and the lack of autonomy for women during the time the story was written.

How is the theme of The Story of an Hour controversial?
The Story of an Hour was considered controversial during the 1890s because it deals with a female protagonist who feels liberated by the news of her husband's death. In Unveiling Kate Chopin, Emily Toth argues that Chopin "had to have her heroine die" in order to make the story publishable.

What is the role of the main character in The Story of an Hour?
The main character, or protagonist, in "The Story of an Hour" is Louise Mallard. Louise is a traditional 19th century wife who is married to Brently Mallard. When she thinks Brently is dead, Louise is excited for her freedom and the new life she will lead being able to live for herself rather than for her husband.

What is the main conflict in The Story of an Hour?
In ''The Story of an Hour'', the conflict is that Louise feels happy and relieved that her husband is dead, but her excitement and joy is dampened by her sense of obligation to feel sad, mournful, and miserable because her husband is dead.

Who is the antagonist in The Story of an Hour?
The antagonist of “The Story of an Hour” is the societal expectations of women during the Victorian Age. At that time, few women had an identity outside of their husband and family.

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