In her short story “The Story of an Hour,” Kate Chopin portrays a woman – “young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength” – dealing with the death of her husband. Chopin laces the story with imagery – sounds, smells, sights, and sensations – to highlight contrasting traits of Mrs. Mallard’s experience for the reader.
Chopin waits until Mrs. Mallard receives the news of her husband’s death before showcasing her visual exposition. “When the storm of grief had spent itself,” introduces a weather-oriented comparison that enhances the mental suffering typically felt upon receiving this kind of news. Mrs. Mallard secludes herself in her room and “There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.” The spring time elements contrast the news that lingers over her: “The delicious breath of rain was in the air,” “The notes of a distant song… reached her faintly,” “Countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves,” Chopin uses these short, but descriptive, sentences to contrast how Mrs. Mallard appears to feel at that moment. The familiar smell of rain creates a connection between the reader and the main character, describing the common “April showers” that nearly everyone has experienced. As Mrs. Mallard gazes out the window at the “new spring life,” she hears a person singing and a bird singing. The different descriptions of the spring life function as a barrier for Mrs. Mallard because she now has to deal with the death of her husband and, at the same time, enjoy a beautiful spring day. The imagery Chopin uses to describe Mrs. Mallard’s activities in her room - the way she sits in a comfortable chair, and looks out of the window of her room to see trees "that were all aquiver with the new spring life" -- are definitely not emblematic of grief. Despite that she was not consciously...
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