Symbolism as Found in Kate Chopin's Story of an Hour

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Symbolism as found in Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour”

In Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” the protagonist, Louise Mallard, is going through a life-changing event that is brought on by the news of the death of her husband, Brently Mallard. During this hour, she is told of her husband’s death, grieves for a short time, discovers that she will now be able to “live for herself” (16) and is finally able to free herself of the restrictive marriage she has been living in. The end of her last hour comes when she sees her husband walking through the door. There are many varying opinions as to why she actually died. Chopin does not directly state what Richards, Brently Mallard’s close friend, is shielding from view or why Mrs. Mallard’s sister, Josephine, cries out in the last few seconds of the story. There are a few symbols that Chopin uses throughout the story to show meaning beyond their literal sense. These symbols allow the reader to imagine, without having to be described in full detail, what the mood of the scene is and what the protagonist is feeling at that moment. There are three primary symbols found within this story: Mrs. Mallard’s heart condition, the window in her room, and the staircase leading to and from her room. This essay will attempt to analyze these symbols and discuss what their meanings are from multiple points of view. Mrs. Mallard’s heart condition is the first symbol that can be found in the story. It is stated on lines one and two that “Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble,” (15). This initially tells the reader that she is actually suffering from a real medical condition, but as the story progresses, the information about this “heart trouble” becomes apparent that it may not just be physical, but emotional as well. The first time reading the story, it seemed obvious that Richards is shielding Mrs. Mallard, with the medical heart condition, from seeing her husband for fear she may have an attack, but after a second look, it does...
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