“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, Annabel Lee Pages: 5 (1605 words) Published: March 26, 2012
I chose to study the symbolism in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. The textbook defines symbol as “Symbol: in literature, a person, place, or thing that suggests more than its literal meaning.” P. 225. There are actually two different symbols in this story to me, one is Louise’s heart trouble and the other is the open window. This story just goes to show you what can happen in an hour of someone’s life. The first symbol is the story is Louise’s heart issues. The heart trouble that Louise suffers from is a physical and symbolic illness that shows her uncertainty in her marriage and unhappiness with her lack of freedom. That Louise suffers from heart issues is one of the first things that we learn about her in the story. “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.” (Chopin 168) That is why everyone is so scared to tell her about Brently’s death, especially her sister Josephine. They think that she will have a heart attack or other issues and die on them. Louise is a lot tougher than some of the people give her credit for because she does not have heart problems when they deliver the news, she just gets upset and cries. Once Louise gets over being upset, she starts getting excited and her heart starts beating fast. “Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.” (Chopin 169). This gives her a feeling of being alive. She comes to the realization that she is free to do what she wants to do without her husband there to stop her. She goes down the stairs after realizing that she is free and her heart is happy about it. As Louise descends the stairs, who opens the door but her husband, Brently, the husband that she was just told was dead. That would be a great shock to anyone. She dies on the spot from a broken heart, not from being happy that her husband is still alive but from being sad that he was alive. “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of joy that kills.”(Chopin 170). It was the opposite. She was so upset because she lost her freedom. The doctor’s conclusion that she’d died from great joy was ironic because it had been the loss of joy that had actually killed her. Louise seems to have died of a broken heart, caused by the sudden loss of her much-loved and wanted independence. The second symbol is the open window or even the new life of spring. The open window gives Louise so much hope and joy for her future, even if she is alone. There will not be anybody to make demands on her time or her, to stop her from doing what she wants to do. “Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she has thought with a shutter that life might be long.” (Chopin 170). The open window represents the freedom and opportunities that await her after her husband has died. She is getting a new beginning, like a new Spring day. Louise is getting so excited as she realizes there is so much more to life than her marriage. She wants to go out and live. Louise can see treetops, blue sky and fluffy clouds from her window in her room. “There was patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.” (Chopin 169). She hears people talking, birds singing and even smells a rainstorm in the air. All of these experiences are bringing her a new sense of joy and elation. Once she fully indulges in this excitement, she feels that the open window is providing her with life itself, something she didn’t seem to have before. The open window provides a clear, bright view into the distance and Louise’s own bright future, which is now unobstructed by her husband’s demands. So, it is not a surprise that once she turns away from the window to go start living her...
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