I vividly agree with Lawrence Berkove’s thesis and interpretation of Kate Chopin’s story since Kate, the author, simply wants readers to believe in the story basing on the narrator’s interpretation of events without appropriate textual evidence to substantiate the assertions and interpretations. Apparently, through the story, Kate intended to portray the devastating nature of excessive self-assuredness through Louise Mallard. According to Lawrence, “in the text of this very short story, there is no hard evidence whatsoever of patriarchal blindness or suppression, constant or selfless sacrifice by Louise…” (pg. 153). People often interpret the story to imply that Louise is a representation of the peculiar and abhorrent suffering that women were subjected to during the 1880s and the story explores social problems that threatened to engrave the then society. This is a delusional interpretation and indicates a misunderstanding of the text.
While male chauvinism was dominant during Chopin’s time, the text does not present any evidence that can substantiate the assertion that Louise’s selfishness was due to the sufferings that her husband inflicted on her. Similarly, we must also learn to differentiate between personal malice from societal malice. “The Story of an Hour” is purely about Louise. Taking Louise’s actions and feelings to be a representation of the actions and feelings of other women during those days will be erroneous and is a hasty generalization. Louise’s actions and arrogance was motivated by her sickness that hampered her ability to think coherently, a fact that the author clearly admits as she claims that Louise was indeed running mad. Hence, the story does not represent social problems, but personal problems arising from the personal selfish need to be left alone and away from any social interference.
Lawrence, I. Berkove. Fatal Self-Assertion in “The Story of an Hour”. American Literary Realism, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Winter, 2000), pp. 152-158. University of Illinois Press.