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The Story of an Hour Lesson Plans

In Kate Chopin’s "The Story of an Hour", the main character, Mrs. Mallard, is a married woman with a heart condition. Her husband is away and news comes that he has perished in a horrific train accident. Her sister gently breaks the news to her, and silently, Mrs. Mallard rejoices. It turns out that she is not happily married and the thought of freedom from her bonds of marriage gives her joy. She assumes that she will be playing the mournful widow, but is she? This is a great story for your middle school students to read!

Student Activities for The Story of an Hour

Essential Questions for "The Story of an Hour"

  1. What makes you happy?
  2. Can you tell truth from falsity?

The Story of an Hour Summary

Mrs. Louise Mallard is a sickly woman. Her heart is extremely weak. So when her husband is presumably killed in a violent train accident, her sister, Josephine, and her husband’s friend try to break the sad news to her gently, as to not cause her heart to fail. Predictably, Louise reacts to the news with tears. She flees upstairs, locking herself in her room.

The tears subside, and Louise begins to look at all of the beauty in the outside world. She suddenly realizes that she is free. With her husband dead, she admits to herself that she will be happy; although she loved him at times, there were time when she did not, which made her very depressed. Now with him gone, she could go out into the world and be “free, free, free!”

Josephine, fearing for Louise’s health, begs her to come out of the room. Finally, she does. While descending the stairs, she is greeted by her husband opening the door, disheveled, but alive and well. Louise screams and collapses of a heart attack. The doctor claims that she was so overjoyed to discover her husband still alive, but the reader is acutely aware that she, in fact, has died because she was so acutely disappointed by the loss of her newly found freedom.

How To Discuss the Themes Present in The Story of an Hour


Identify Themes

Introduce students to the concept of themes and provide a few simple textbook definitions. Teachers can explain that themes are those central ideas that represent the purpose of the story. Ask the students their thoughts on the concept and if they have talked about themes prior to this lecture.


Identify Themes

Before asking the students to identify themes present in The Story of an Hour, give them some sample texts to analyze and highlight themes from. Students can also talk about themes from any other famous story they have read or remember. Once students are clear on the concept, ask them to highlight the central ideas present in this story.


Talk About Freedom

One of the main themes present in the story is “Freedom”. The main character is happy because of her newly found freedom but to other people, the news of her husband’s death is sad. Ask the students to analyze the meaning of freedom and what it means to different people. Students can also analyze why the main character thought her husband’s death meant freedom.


Discuss Social Expectations

Another main theme present in the story is “Social Expectations” as the other characters only interpret what they thought was normal. Students can reflect on the role of the time period on social expectations and how these expectations have changed over time. Ask the students to share their own experiences regarding this theme and if they have ever shared similar feelings with the main character.


Analyze Author’s Intent

Encourage the students to analyze why the author portrayed the main character like this and the role of these themes in the story. Students can reflect on the message the author wanted the readers to interpret from this story.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

When was the story written and published?

Written in 1894, "The Story of an Hour" had its debut year of publication in the same year. Students can analyze the relationship between the themes present in the story and the time period it was originally written it. This analysis can help the students understand the point of view of the author and the significance of themes.

Where does "The Story of an Hour" take place?

The narrative takes place in a late 19th-century American home, most likely one that is typical of the era. The story has all the elements of that time period and gives the readers a quick understanding of different aspects of society during the late 19th century.

Who are the story's primary characters?

The protagonists of the narrative are Mrs. Louise Mallard, her husband Mr. Brently Mallard, her sister Josephine, and Mr. Mallard's friend Richards.

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