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Women in Late Nineteenth Century America
Kate Chopin Revealed in Her Own Words

CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR "The Story of an Hour"

Kate Chopin (1850–1904) always did things the way she wanted to, not the way late–nineteenth–century American society dictated. Whether this meant that she would smoke cigarettes in front of her husband’s business acquaintances, walk around town without concealing her pregnant belly, or publish stories and newspaper articles challenging the state of womanhood, Chopin seemed incapable of exhibiting the acceptable behaviors and ideas of her day. In fact, to many modern readers and critics, Chopin was a woman ahead of her time, embodying the feminist before the cry for feminism rang out.
Vogue magazine published Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” under the title “The Dream of an Hour” on December 6, 1894. Chopin herself was in vogue then, and her words appeared in most of the popular women’s magazines and journals and in prominent newspapers as well. But Chopin didn’t only write for publication. She also kept diaries throughout her life. In these private papers, which were published posthumously, Chopin’s thoughts bear a real resemblance to the thoughts to which Louise Mallard surrenders herself in “The Story of an Hour.”

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Contributing author: Molly Kalkstein

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