The Story of an Hour


Kate Chopin

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Themes and Colors
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Story of an Hour, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Women in 19th-Century Society

In the late 19th century, much of American society held to the deep-seated belief that women were inferior to and should remain dependent upon husbands and other male figures. On the whole, women were expected to accommodate their husbands by cooking, cleaning, and generally maintaining the household. Any employment available to them offered wages significantly less than what men earned, and women were expected to conduct their lives according to their husbands’ wishes. Most women…

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Freedom and Independence

In “The Story of an Hour,” freedom and independence—not love, not friends, not family, not honor or glory or anything else—are held up as what make a life worth living. Though Louise is at first genuinely upset by the news of Brently’s death—and though she makes it clear that she will greatly mourn the loss of her husband—over the course of the hour in which she believes him to be dead, she comes to…

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Love and Marriage

You might reasonably guess, if you were told that a woman became deliriously excited soon after her husband’s sudden death, that the marriage was not a very good one. However, “The Story of an Hour” makes it clear that Louise and Brently’s marriage was perfectly loving or, at the very least, normal. After all, Louise’s initial reaction to her husband’s death is completely authentic and powerful: she goes alone to her room not…

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