The Story of an Hour

Love and Marriage Theme Analysis

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.
Love and Marriage Theme Icon

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 to plot her path to freedom but because, in her grief, she can’t bear to be with anyone else. And even as she begins to recognize the freedom that Brently’s death promises, she thinks of his “face that had never looked save with love upon her” and knows that she will weep with sadness when she looks upon his “kind, tender hands folded in death.

The basic goodness of Louise and Brently’s marriage is crucial because it means that Louise’s joy at her newfound freedom isn’t a critique of her marriage to Brently, but rather a critique of the entire institution of marriage. In her “moment of illumination,” she describes marriage as centered around “that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” Louise believes love and marriage restrict freedom and that, as such, they are institutions in which the benefit does not equal the cost.

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Love and Marriage ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Love and Marriage appears in each chapter of The Story of an Hour. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Love and Marriage Quotes in The Story of an Hour

Below you will find the important quotes in The Story of an Hour related to the theme of Love and Marriage.
“The Story of an Hour” Quotes

There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.

Related Characters: Louise Mallard
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

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What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!

Related Characters: Louise Mallard, Brently Mallard
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:

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She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs.

Related Characters: Louise Mallard, Josephine
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:

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