Critical Response - the Story of an Hour

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In the short story The Story of an Hour, the author Kate Chopin focuses on the theme of finding one’s self identity and becoming free and independent as an individual. The theme becomes emphasized in the sentence “But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome. There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself” (202). This sentence expresses Mrs. Mallard’s change of emotions when she realizes she is finally free and able to make her own decisions. Mrs. Louise Mallard is the protagonist who has a heart condition that causes her death at the end of the story. Her husband Brently Mallard is rumoured to be dead after the reports of a railroad disaster, which causes Mrs. Mallard to sulk in her bedroom. Chopin describes these feelings by writing “She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her” (202). Later, Mrs. Mallard realizes that the significance of his death meant freedom. Both Richards, one of Brently’s close friends, and Josephine, Mrs. Mallard's sister, who told Mrs. Mallard the news were with her in hopes of comforting her for her loss. At the end of the story Brently comes back home which causes Mrs. Mallard to become so surprised that she suddenly died because of her heart condition. Symbolism is an essential part of The Story of an Hour by using symbols such as spring that symbolizes rebirth and a new beginning. Both Mrs. Mallard’s heart condition and the springtime hold deeper meaning. Mrs. Mallard’s heart condition symbolizes distress both emotionally and physically. Emotionally, bad news affects Mrs. Mallard much more severely than it would affect one without a heart problem. “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at...
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