Kate Chopin research papers show she is one of the most well-known nineteenth-century female American authors. Though she is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening, Chopin has also gained acclaim for her portrayals of women in short stories such as The Storm and The Story of an Hour. Much like her longer fiction, Kate Chopin’s short stories focus on the lives of women in a male-dominated society. While her female protagonists are not always considered strong by today’s definition of womanhood, they show extreme determinism in light of the patriarchal nineteenth-century societies in which they live. Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” is one such heroine.
Throughout the course of this short story and within the confines of an hour, Kate Chopin gives readers a solid understanding of Mrs. Mallard’s life. Though readers are not presented with an in depth understanding of the main character’s daily life, they know that Mrs. Mallard has been sheltered because of her heart condition and has therefore not been able to make any important decisions for herself. In displaying her main character’s sheltered life in this way, Chopin comments on the conflicting world-views held by the patriarchal society in which she and her character lived and the oppression felt by many women in light of that world-view. In “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard discovers her personal freedom through her husband’s death. When her husband walks through the front door at the end of the story, that freedom is lost so that Mrs. Mallard is personally faced with the story’s major conflict and must therefore decide whether she can continue living in the protected world she has always known.