Kate Chopin “The story of an hour” When you wake up from a dream sometimes your palms are sweaty, your heart is racing you feel as if you just ran a marathon.
Other times you want to close your eyes peacefully and fall back into the place you just were. A dream is a surreal form of a story. Your imagination runs wild; you have no control of what is going to happen next. In contrast while reading, writing, imagining a story, one has a sense of where the story is heading. In “The Story of an Hour” the plot has characteristics of a dream; therefore, through the title “Dream of an hour,” the reader can better understand the storyline.
When one has a dream it is usually fast paced, and the order of events seems unorganized. The first sentence of the narrative gives you some heavy news about what is happening, “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (15). Already readers do not know what to think and what is going to take place. So much happens in so little time that it seems like it is all a dream.When something startling happens that is completely unexpected, the first reaction is that it is a dream taking place, because of the idea that a dream is surprising and catches you off guard.
Chopin wanted to create some sort of dream-like nature in the story since the original title was “The Dream of an Hour. ” When Louise hears about the death of her husband she is caught off guard to the point where she does not know how to react: “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance” (15).To her the death of her husband seems like a dream. Upon hearing the news Mrs. Mallard is compared to a dreaming child: “a child who cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams,” (15) Chopin is trying to depict how dreamlike and surreal the news of her husband’s death is.
Another way how this narrative is like a dream is how Mrs. Mallard thinks she has her freedom, but in reality she does not. When Mrs. Mallard was sitting in the room alone she is daydreaming.
While she is looking out the window at the sky, Mrs. Mallard’s mind is in another place.She thinks her freedom is real. To her, freedom is defined as being alone, being able to make decisions. Now that her husband is dead she feels more alive the news “relaxed every inch of her body” (16). She did not care whether it is wrong or not to feel that freedom, she just wanted to feel free, “Free! Body and soul free! ”(16), She kept repeating because that is all she could focus on.
Her dream overtook her mind, body, and soul. Her sister knocking on the door is almost a warning that she needs to wake up because maybe she is not really free.Her sister knocking is in comparison to a dream, when something happens and you know it cannot be true but you choose to not believe in it. Mrs. Mallard gets a second wakeup call which is her husband walking through the door. Through this second wakeup call she cannot handle that her freedom is not real, and dies.
Just like in a dream the ending is always unexpected or there is not even a real ending, this narrative also ended in a surprising, shocking way. From the startling discovery that her husband is dead, her own rebirth takes place; Mrs.Mallard feels relieved, as if a weight has been lifted off her shoulders, “ she said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free! ” then she sees her husband alive, goes into shock and dies. This all seems unrealistic; so much happens in so little time that it all seems like a dream. When her husband walks through the door at the end of the story, her freedom is smashed and this realization ultimately causes her death.
Mrs. Mallard was so close to living in freedom just like in dream when one wakes up right when they are going to get what they want. Mrs.Mallard dying so suddenly causes the reader to feel troubled.
The end of a dream is not usually satisfying; this sequence of events is also unsettling. The fact that Mrs. Mallard just dies and the story ends is in itself surreal and leaves readers with an unclear knowledge about the chain of events. The reader would connect better with the narrative had the story been titled the dream of an hour because then the reader would be able to foresee that Louise’s freedom will be challenged. Since nothing in a dream lasts forever, the reader would understand that a dream does not last forever and would apply that to Mrs.Mallard’s situation and realize her dream does not last either.
If Kate Chopin kept the title the dream of an hour the reader would have been able to understand the narrative from a clearer point of view and this would have enhanced the reader’s experience. The assumptions the reader needs to make to connect to the narrative will be provoked easier with the title the dream of an hour. “The Story of an Hour” should have been more appropriately titled the dream of an hour due its elements of the illusion of Mrs. Mallard’s freedom, its unexpected plot, and inconclusive ending.