Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin – Character
A dynamic character is a major character in a work of fiction that encounters conflict and is changed by it. In “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the emotional pattern and thought process of Louise Mallard after she is informed of her husband’s death are explored. Over the course of the hour in which the story takes place Louise has a realization about the constraints she feels in her life and in her marriage. By delineating Louise as a flat and dynamic character, Chopin is able to convey her theme that real freedom is found in death.
Over the course of the story, all the characters are left as fairly flat and undeveloped. Louise is simply described as a young woman with “a fair, clam face whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength” (paragraph 8) and that was suffering from a heart condition. When the death of her husband, Brently, is revealed her immediate reaction was that of despair. After weeping suddenly with “wild abandonment,” Louise retreated to her room in order to collapse in solitude (paragraph 3 and 4). The tragic realization and emotional exhaustion eventually leads Louise to a realization of freedom.
By whispering “free, free, free! ” (paragraph 11) under her breath and not over thinking the feeling she had, Louise was able to embrace the joy with open arms she discovered in her newfound freedom. Although she knew that she would be torn apart at the sight of “the face that had never looked save with love upon her” (paragraph 12) as a corpse, Louise welcomed the oncoming years spent in devotion to her own desires. This shift in position on death motivates Louise to realize that Brently’s death should not be dwelled on with sorrow. Motivation is a sufficient reason for a character to act the way they do.
Louise’s motivation for living a liberated life comes through the open window. Through nature, Chopin provides Louise with purpose. For example, while being described, the upstairs room is left with the simplistic depiction that it has only a single roomy armchair. When her husband is no longer there to restrict her potential, the house, which was once her cage, finally opens up to the outside world. With the “breath of rain in the air” and the tree tops bursting with life (paragraph four), Louise begins her journey to her conclusion.
Even though the visualization of nature, Louise is competent enough to grasp that her love for Brently could not compare to the “possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being” (paragraph fifteen). Soon enough she had nearly forgotten her departed lover and was “drinking in an elixir of life through that open window” (paragraph eighteen). After the inhalation of submission, Louise “carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” (paragraph twenty) down the stairs.
In doing so, the once emotionally unstable and physically ailed woman with “white slender hands” (paragraph ten) was able to prepare for a life without discretion or restrictions. The development of Louise only seized due to her preexisting medical condition claiming her life. However this motivation is what caused Louise to act in the ways she did and refined the theme. The development of character in “The Story of an Hour” is left stagnant. Having a flat main character allows the reader to identify with the story on a level of understanding separate from that of any round character.
Although the reader is inserted into Louise’s mind, an entirely understood background for her is missing. In doing so a void is made in which the reader can implant themselves into the character’s shoes to further comprehend the exact emotions of Louise during the hour. This further expands the understanding of theme because as Louise remains in front of the window with her arms spread welcoming the years to come, since she is left lacking in detail, the reader can jump into her place; they can shed tears with her or drink the elixir of life with her.
The theme that death is the ultimate release from constraint is understood in the story due to Chopin’s development of Louise as a flat and dynamic character. While companionship and love are significantly important aspects of life, Chopin was able to demonstrate that Louise was ecstatic only when she realized the new way she could live her life. After all, the Greek historian Thucydides once said, “the secret of happiness is freedom. ” Works Cited: Kennedy, XJ and Dana Gioia. Literature, An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. Seventh edition. Boston: Pearson, 2010. Print.