Freedom and Symbolism in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

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"The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

In "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, the author tells a short story of harsh irony and a wife's realization of a new life after her husband's death. Chopin introduces the main character, Louise Mallard, as a married woman with a weak heart and a marriage that is complicated and restrictive. In the beginning of the story Louise hears the news of her husband's death in a train accident. She is distraught and filled with grief, so she goes up to her room where she sits in her comfortable armchair and thinks about how her life will change now that her husband is gone. She realizes that his death is the birth of her new found freedom. She can look forward to tomorrow and not feel imposed by his will in her activities. Yet Mrs.

Mallard's freedom is quickly abandoned as Mr. Mallard comes through the door. At his sight Louise succumbs to her weak heart. "When the doctors came they said she died of heart disease-of the joy that kills." However the reader knows that her death is due to shattered dreams of freedom.

After the initial onslaught of grief Mrs. Mallard goes to her room. As Louise sits in the armchair staring blankly out of the open window, the narrator observes that, "There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled above the other in the west facing her window." Already, the reader recognizes the blue sky as a sign of hope emerging from a heavy gloominess. Soon the reader's suspicions are confirmed as Louise sits in her armchair chanting, "Free, free, free." However there were several conflicts in her life that brought her...