Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" can be read and analyzed in a variety of different ways. Every one of the common critical strategies could be sufficient. Taking a look at a work from all of these points of view can be very difficult and drawn out. Briefly touching the surface of one of these strategies alone takes much time. There is a lot of thinking and analyzing that has to be done. In some of these strategies, the reader has to throw out everything he or she would normally do while reading, and look for underlining meaning and hidden references. In others such as reader-response, the reader must rely on what he or she thinks or sees, and must disregard any other meaning that the author intended to have. So these different ways to analyze works of literature can be as similar and different as the works themselves.
Before getting into the interpretation of "The Story of an Hour," I will give a short summary of the story. The main character is a woman by the name of Mrs. Mallard. Kate Chopin presents Mrs. Mallards first conflict of the story at the very beginning. The news of her husband's death in a railroad accident has just been broken to her and she begins to weep, just as any average wife would do. Then, she runs to her room and cries more only to be interrupted with a different kind of feeling. Although she admits that she loved her husband sometimes, she still felt that sense of freedom being given to her. When she finally comes out of her room, she notices someone opening her front door, and in walks her husband. The sight of Mr. Mallard causes her to let out a final cry as her heart fails. The doctor said she had died from "joy that kills" (Meyer, 20). .
Having a woman as the main character provides the perfect opportunity to utilize gender criticism. There are a few different kinds of gender criticism, such as feminist criticism and gay and lesbian criticism. In feminist criticism, the object is to show how the female is depicted in the story in relationship to the males.