ISC Class 12- Literature –The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

About the author .. Kate Chopin(1850-1904) is remembered as much as for her gripping short stories, as for her pioneering role in American feminist movement. She believed in the institution of marriage as any normal woman, but her inner self told her relentlessly that wives must have the liberty to profess their views with no hindrance, and do things they liked without seeking the permission of their husbands. Born in St. Luis, Missouri, she had a French mother and an Irish father. She was widowed prematurely, but the disaster proved to be blessing as it enabled her to plunge into writing with all her time and energy.
In her novel ‘The Awakening’, she gives enough indication about her strong belief in women’s emancipation and the idea f equality of the sexes. ‘The Story of an Hour’, she has portrayed the feelings of a woman who receives the news of her husband’s death with equanimity and subdued glee because as a widow she could live own life. The dream is shattered moments later when the ‘dead’ husband appears alive in person

The story …

Mrs. Mallard had just lost her husband in a train accident. Being widowed at a relatively young age is a shattering tragedy for a woman.  Besides this, she had a cardiac history, so everyone took extraordinary care to soften the blow before breaking the news to her. It fell on Josephine to communicate the news to her elder sister. Josephine spoke in tits and bits, in indirect language, and in a way, so that the news didn’t strike Mrs. Millard too hard.

Their family friend Richards had brought the news of the train accident that had proved fatal for Mr. Millard. In the list of passengers list killed in the accident, Mr. Millard’s name surely was there. Richards had cross-checked it through a second telegram, before coming to convey the news to the bereaved wife.

Mrs. Millard’s reaction to the news was a bit unusual. She didn’t become benumbed and still, as most women react on first hearing the news of the death of their husbands. Instead, she cried loudly and wildly in Josephine’s hands. After a while, the tumult and the frenzy began to calm somewhat. Mrs. Millard rushed into her room, bolted it from inside, and locked herself. Everyone though, most likely she wanted to be left alone in that hour of grief.

Inside the room, there was a comfortable cane chair kept facing a large window. One could see trees with lush foliage. Spring was setting on. It had rained for a while. A hawker carried his ware a little distance away.  Sparrows had been twittering in the eaves exuberantly. Cloud hovered in the sky. A lone singer was singing somewhere afar.

In the comfortable cane chair, Mrs. Millard seated herself as if unable to take the burden of the grief. A torrent of thoughts seemed to pass through her mind. She was sad, no doubt, but she was experiencing something different. She looked vacantly at the distant sky, gazing into the clouds. Perhaps, she was trying to imagine her life as a widow. She reminisced about her married life. It was both sour and sweet. Her husband loved her, no doubt, but disagreements often marred their marital bliss. The loss was tragic, but she must come to turns with it sooner r later. She must do the rebuilding task on her own terms, not pushed or influenced by anyone else.

She felt that she was ‘free’ at last. The thought was exciting. She saw an opportunity here –to do things she liked without being fettered by anything or anyone else’s overpowering influence. She was beginning to feel happy at the prospect of living an un-shackled life. After some serious introspection, she convinced herself that the deliverance from married life was a welcome opening indeed. She looked forward to a joyous life in the coming years.

Josephine, overcome with trepidation, was frantically trying to come in and see her bereaved sister. From outside the locked door, she screamed at her elder sister to open the door and let her in. Mrs. Millard didn’t like to be disturbed from her reverie. Optimism had returned. She looked forward expectantly to the months ahead. She seemed to have triumphed over her misfortune.

Finally, she opened the door to let Josephine in. She exuded rare self-confidence and hope. She clung to her sister and both of them went downstairs. Richard was waiting there.

Something utterly unbelievable happened. Brently Millard came in opening the front door by his key. As usual, he was carrying his umbrella and grip-sack. He looked somewhat tired. He was blissfully unaware of the accident as he happened to be in a different location when the mishap happened.

Mr. Millard had a quizzical look in his eyes. Josephine recoiled in horror on seeing him, standing before her in person. The shock was perhaps too much for Mrs. Millard. Her reverie had been smashed by hard reality.

Mrs. Millard couldn’t possibly bear it. She breathed her last.

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Questions and answers …

Q1 …Why ‘The Story of an Hour’ is symbolic of modern feminism?

Answer .. From the dawn of civilization till today, women have borne the weight of patriarchal hegemony. It is rather strange, how some women have refused to be crushed under such a repressive system. God made men stronger than women, but didn’t quite prepare the latter for perpetual slavery in the guise of ‘good womanhood’. Women posses as much creativity as men do, and their urge to live life in their own terms is as strong today as it was ever. Marriage is a social contract that loses its validity when all freedoms are taken away from the weaker ex – an equal party in the contract.

Feminists, men and women alike have railed against the Victorian value system that confines the women to the four walls of the house. They are expected to take care of the house, serve all family members, and never ‘waste’ time in any hobby that their husbands disapprove of. Outdoor roles for women have seldom been accepted as legitimate or desirable. It is strange how women still manage to eke out a role for themselves outside the confines of their homes, asserting their right and place in the society.

Kate Chopin wrote ‘The Story of an Hour’ in 1894. It was published in the Vogue magazine. Mrs. Mallard is a home maker serving her over-bearing husband who decides what chores she should do, where and when she could go, and what hobbies, if at all, she could indulge in. No wonder Mrs. Mallard seethed under such a husband. She was too submissive in nature to vent her frustration, but her desire to ‘be herself’ never deserted her. The news of her husband’s death comes, but the elation in her mind drowns her grief. She feels she can take to her wings to soar into the sky. The elation is short-lived as Mr. Mallard arrives in the scene. The flame of freedom in her mind is snuffed out, brutally.

A modern feminist would instantly identify themselves with Mrs. Mallard. She was a victim of her husband’s stifling writs that ran in her house. Was Mrs. Mallard a feminist herself? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. This is why, relief and rejoicing overwhelmed her instead of grief when the news of the fatal accident came. She imagined she could follow her passions with no fetters or sense of guilt.

For modern feminists, the plight of Mrs. Mallard strikes a raw chord in hearts. In a way, Mrs. Mallard was a feminist icon.

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Q2 ….. Analyse Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts when she sat behind the closed doors dealing with her grief?

Answer .. Mrs. Mallard’s marriage had not been a happy one. Her husband’s stern ways had severely clipped her yearning for carefree life. The restrictions imposed by him gnawed at her self relentlessly. She vainly craved for freedom, but she could only cringe and fret, but could do nothing else. The news of Mr. Mallad’s demise came like a bolt from the blue, leaving her a widow, and a woman without a mate. Normally, a vicissitude like this would devastate even the most strong-willed woman, albeit temporarily.

For Mrs. Mallard, widowhood brought with it the prospect of freedom that had eluded her all along. Her joy of being able to live the rest of her life on her own terms was palpable. The grief of losing her husband was surely there, but it was overshadowed by her sense of relief at being unshackled from a bondage that had proved to be insufferable.

Mrs. Mallad withdrew to a lonely corner of the first floor that offered a view of the road and the landscape in the front. Her mind was in torment, as a mix of contrasting emotions swirled inside it. She pondered her fate as a widow, the loneliness that lay ahead, and the insecurity that could bedevil her life. Yet, she saw some light too. She was on her own from then on. She could engage in her pet hobbies, visit friends, travel to places with no hindrance and none to tie her down. Her pent-up desire for being a free-wheeling woman would finally come to fruition. This was great relief, but she, obviously, couldn’t show it to anyone for fear of embarrassment. She sat thee brooding her future, but drawing solace from the fact that she was finally ‘a free bird’.

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56 thoughts on “ISC Class 12- Literature –The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin”

  1. Sir can u help me with a question that asks, why’ the story of an hour’ is symbolic of modern feminism…
    I will be very grateful if u give your time to my question

    Reply
  2. Mrs mallad Death at the end of the story suggest that her ideas about freedom was just delayed shock and that she was in fact so grief stricken her death was only a matter of time do you agree with this

    Reply
        • I feel the question has not been properly framed. That caused some difficulty for me in writing the answer. Nevertheless, I wrote one.
          ————————————————————————————.—————————————————-
          Question ….Mrs. Mallard’s death at the end of the story suggests that her ideas about freedom were just delayed shock and that she was, in fact, so grief-stricken that her death was only a matter of time. Do you agree with this?
          Answer .. Mrs. Mallard was condemned to a life of servitude under an over-bearing husband. She craved the freedom of the outdoors, but her desires were crushed by her indifferent husband. Her cardiac problem had enfeebled her. It’s unclear if she had it before her marriage, or the stress of leading an encaged home-maker’s life had caused this debilitating disease. She was, no doubt, sad about her husband’s untimely death, but the prospect of living life independently without any one breathing down her neck had more than neutralized the sorrow. Sadly for her, Mr. Mallard reappeared in flesh and blood.
          What exactly Mrs. Mallard died so suddenly is a question that can have multiple answers, but the fact that her weak heart couldn’t take the stress of the sudden change in her situation can’t be discounted. For a normal healthy woman, the death and reappearance of a husband could be extremely stressful. The woman may not die, but the shock could be very devastating. In case of Mrs. Mallard, the situation got worsened because she was blustered multiple times. First the death of Mr. Mallard, then the hope of a ‘free’ life, and finally the shattering of that hope when Mr. Mallard reappeared – such wild swings of the mood in so short a time precipitated her demise. She was in Cloud Nine for a brief period, chalking out plans for travels, socializing, partying etc. and then the sudden descent to the darkness of her home-maker’s life buffeted her soul fatally.
          Finally, it can be reasoned that Mrs. Mallard died, but her death was premature. The extinguishing of her dream for freedom and unfettered enjoyment advanced her death. The pity is Mr. Mallard couldn’t have suspected that his hegemony over her caused her tragic death.
          ———————————-.———————

          Reply
  3. Thanku so much sir; I am an ISC student going to appear for boards this session .I get problem only in expanding the answers (the 6 marks and 8 marks are okay) but when it comes to 20 marks questions i feel lack of words to write .I hope you would help me in coming chapters too .Your help would mean a lot to me. thank u💓💓💓💓

    Reply
  4. Transform the sentence without changing its meaning.

    He was too young to go abroad.
    Start with had he been

    Reply
  5. The story The singing lesson brings out Katherine mansfield unique talents for realistically capturing a moment in time elucidate 200 words

    Reply
  6. plz transform this sentence.
    The foolish girl threw all the water away before she put the kettle on the fire.
    Start with… Having …………………………..

    Reply
  7. The doctor in “The Story of an Hour,” claims that Mrs. Mallard dies of “heat disease — of joy that kills”.
    Discuss the truth of this statement.
    20 marks
    Word limit 350-400

    Reply
    • Mrs. Mallard did die of heart attack. The doctor was right in his diagnosis. But, it was beyond the limits of his medical knowledge to pinpoint the underlying cause. Mrs. Millard did have an impaired heart. So, for a person with cardiac history to be buffeted by sudden surge of strong emotion could be fatal. That is what Mr. Brently Millard and Josephine would have assumed. They were again right in their view. Mrs. Millard was indeed hit by a torrent of emotion, but what was the real emotion? Was it the joy of a just-widowed woman of seeing her husband alive – in flesh and blood? Most would conclude that. However, the truth was the opposite. The truth perhaps died with Mrs. Millard, because not many knew what torture she was enduring at the hands of her oppressive husband. It was like dying every day of her married life, every second of her days. The death had brought her deliverance, a much-dreamt unshackling of her bonds as a faithful obedient wife.
      Mr. Millard had a stone of heart, and a demeanor of a devil. She never understood the cravings of her wife. Instead, she demanded and got total capitulation of her freedom-loving wife. She surrendered to his whims, but burnt her soul, slowly and steadily. The news of her husband’s death was a god=sent opportunity to break free, live life on her own terms. But alas, it was a fleeting joy, a cruel deception, and a brutal stab at her sensibilities. She saw her husband alive, in flesh and blood, but perceived him to be a devil, out to devour her. The shock was too strong for her enfeebled heart, and her momentarily being in Cloud 9. Her heart failed, and fell silent forever. What an irony!
      ————————————END————————

      Reply
  8. What do you find surprising or shocking about the short story – The Story of an hour? – 200 words

    Reply
        • Mrs. Mallard had been married and spent her life with her husband for years. After long years of living together, the marital bond becomes strong, so when one partner dies, the other is plunged in grief. In some cases, the grief so devastates the widow that she becomes a mental wreck.
          In case of Mrs. Mallard, the opposite seems to have happened. She was so suffocated by the overbearing nature of her husband that she yearned vainly for deliverance from the marital bond. Her married life had been a story of broken dreams, oppression, and painful servitude. There was no way she could break free to lead the rest of her life in her own terms.
          The train accident, and the wrong assumption that Mr. Mallard had succumbed to his injuries was itself an unexplained conjecture. The passing away of a person should drown his wife in grief, but Mrs. Mallard took it as a god-given opportunity to dream of an unfettered life without her husband breathing down her neck all the time. She was in Cloud 9.
          The reappearance of Mr. Mallard was an anti-climax.
          The twist and turn of the story, along with the fact that no one knew the turmoil in Mrs. Mallard’s make the story shocking, but thoroughly engrossing.

          Reply
  9. What is the dream in “The Story of an Hour” and how is it deferred? Even though it is written in prose, does the story use poetic devices, such as metaphors and sensory imagery? What are they in this story, and what do they symbolise?

    Reply
    • Mrs. Mallard’s mood swung like a pendulum — from shock to elation to shock again. Her dream when she got married must have been to have a happy, understanding companion. But, she was in for great misery as her domineering husband dealt with her almost like a pampered slave, with n freedom of choice. Then came the dream of being able to lead a free, un-feterred life, free from an overbearing husband’s iron grip. She dremed to soar like a bird into the limitless blue sky. But, luck was not kind to her as Mr. Mallard appeared in flesh and blood. She had to return to the marital bondage, to the drudgery of household cores, and the gaze of a dour husband. She could take i no more and breathed her last.
      The story is awash with metaphors and sensor y devices. In fact, the story is so engrossing because these devices transport the reader to the presence of Mrs. Mallard.
      Some examples ….
      Metaphors ….
      Storm of grief had spent itself
      She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her
      There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory.
      He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry.
      Sensory devices …
      The delicious breath of rain was in the air
      There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window
      But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.
      Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will—as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.
      The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses

      Reply
        • Posting it again.
          In reply to Kumkum Jain.
          Mrs. Mallard’s mood swung like a pendulum — from shock to elation to shock again. Her dream when she got married must have been to have a happy, understanding companion. But, she was in for great misery as her domineering husband dealt with her almost like a pampered slave, with n freedom of choice. Then came the dream of being able to lead a free, un-feterred life, free from an overbearing husband’s iron grip. She dremed to soar like a bird into the limitless blue sky. But, luck was not kind to her as Mr. Mallard appeared in flesh and blood. She had to return to the marital bondage, to the drudgery of household cores, and the gaze of a dour husband. She could take i no more and breathed her last.
          The story is awash with metaphors and sensor y devices. In fact, the story is so engrossing because these devices transport the reader to the presence of Mrs. Mallard.
          Some examples ….
          Metaphors ….
          Storm of grief had spent itself
          She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her
          There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory.
          He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry.
          Sensory devices …
          The delicious breath of rain was in the air
          There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window
          But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.
          Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will—as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.
          The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses

          Reply
    • In reply to Kumkum Jain.
      Mrs. Mallard’s mood swung like a pendulum — from shock to elation to shock again. Her dream when she got married must have been to have a happy, understanding companion. But, she was in for great misery as her domineering husband dealt with her almost like a pampered slave, with n freedom of choice. Then came the dream of being able to lead a free, un-feterred life, free from an overbearing husband’s iron grip. She dremed to soar like a bird into the limitless blue sky. But, luck was not kind to her as Mr. Mallard appeared in flesh and blood. She had to return to the marital bondage, to the drudgery of household cores, and the gaze of a dour husband. She could take i no more and breathed her last.
      The story is awash with metaphors and sensor y devices. In fact, the story is so engrossing because these devices transport the reader to the presence of Mrs. Mallard.
      Some examples ….
      Metaphors ….
      Storm of grief had spent itself
      She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her
      There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory.
      He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry.
      Sensory devices …
      The delicious breath of rain was in the air
      There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window
      But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.
      Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will—as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.
      The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses

      Reply
  10. The setting of the story is very limited; it is confined largely to a room, a staircase, and a front door. How does this limitation help to express the themes of the story?(300 words approx)
    Sir may uh please help me with this question too. It’s a bit necessarily needed because of a test of mine. I would really be grateful to you.

    Reply
    • Don’t memorise my answer. Adapt it to your level and convenience. Yes, the answer ends with ‘Her pulses’, but you need to modify the last part somewhat.
      The initial part till the description of metahors, and sensory devices can be retained. After that you need to make minor changes here and there.

      Reply
      • Sir.. It’s not an essay topic.
        “Books are our best friends.”
        This sentence is to be transformed starting with “Are ……… .”

        Reply
        • Books are our best friends
          Are there tourist places, five star hotels, luxury restaurants, theaters, or even fast food joints where you can get the pleasure of a lifetime companionship at less than Rs.500? Answer is ‘No’. Even a chicken burger costs as much. And it titillates your taste buds for less than five minutes.
          I bought a copy of William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy for Rs.479 only. I read it in four days. I re-read it 5 times since. It has opened my mind to a period of our colonial history that I could never have known without this book. In my school’s debate competition on ‘The value of unity for a nation’, I stood first and a hug from my Principal.
          From then on, I decided to utilize my monthly pocket money of Rs. 2000 to buy books by Charles Dickens, Tolstoy, Agatha Christe, and Prem Chand. I am a much wiser, saner, and calmer teenager now. I seldom fight with my parents, friends or teachers.
          I can spend hours and days reading books. It gives me wholesome entertainment, in full privacy, and in negligible cost. When lost in my book, I don’t bother anyone, nor do I make demands on other’s time and attention. Books are now my friend, philosopher and guide. Almost like God’s gift to me.

          Reply
  11. Sir can you please help me with this question
    How can we connect the idea of a short period of time to the story’s main subject,death? What do you think Chopin might be trying to say about the importance of time in one’s life by setting the story in such a limited time frame?

    Reply
    • How can we connect the idea of a short period of time to the story’s main subject, death? What do you think Chopin might be trying to say about the importance of time in one’s life by setting the story in such a limited time frame?
      ——————————————.———-
      Mrs. Mallard’s life with her husband was a story of despair, frustration and anguish. Kate Chopin could have written pages to describe her daily ordeal as a caged soul under the watch of her over bearing husband, but the author has desisted from this. Mrs. Mallard ruminates about her futile drab days as a woman with no freedom, and dreams of a life when she would soar to the skies with her wings. Kate Chopin has spoke volumes in just a few lines. The sudden revelation of Mrs. Mallard’s pent-up frustration takes the unprepared reader by a total surprise. Mrs. Mallard’s jubilation last for a few minutes as her husband assumed dead, reappears in flesh and blood. He no doubt had not met death, but his reappearance caused his wife’s death. The twist and turn of the story makes it so fascinating, especially, the demise of Mrs. Mallard whose return to her role as a house wife becomes too much of a shock to bear. She succumbs to the shock.
      Kate Chopin has squeezed the long years of married life of Mrs. Mallard to a few minutes of rumination. Like a magician performing a trick by the sleight of his hand, Kate Chopin squeezes Mrs. Mallard’s married life to a few minutes. The literary style is unique, and speaks volumes about his artistry with the pen.
      ————————END—————–

      Reply
  12. 5G network has been adopted by many countries of the world. India is willing to adopt the 5G network.
    How to write a reflective composition based on the above topic in 450 words?

    Reply
  13. Referring closely to the short story The Story of the Hour, give an account of the thoughts and conflicts which go through Mrs. Mallard’s mind when she hears about the untimely and sudden death of her husband. Comment on the ending of the story. (450-500 words)

    Reply
    • Kate Chopin has weaved the story of Mrs. Mallard with outstanding sensitivity and flourish. Mrs. Mallard had everything materialy that her body could cherish — a home, a husband, and nothing to bother her much. But, her soul was starved, encaged and enslaved. She yearned for a certain degree of freedom that eluded her all her life under the overbearing and oppressive husband. Thus, the soul remained trapped in the body always trying to break free and soar into the sky like a bird. The pain she felt was excruciating an unfirgiving. There was no way she could make Mr. Mallard to relax his reins. It was a vain and humdrum life that she had to endure, because she was a married woman. Her soul pined for liberty, but its wails met with a defeaning silence imposed by the orthodox society. This explains why Mrs. Mallard was so overjoyed at his widowhood, notwithstanding the lonliness and insecurity it entailed. Alas, Mrs. Mallard was not fortunate to live the lfe she so much cherished. Her widowhood was momentary, so was her being in Cloud 9.

      Reply

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