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

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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,
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This window is symbolically representing her reflection on her life with her husband. She is able to release herself, in feeling, out the window and is now able to emerge as a newly enlightened woman. The window is described as a positive entity in the story and states:
“She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air.” (15)
It was common around the turn of the last century, when society was patriarchal, for women and men of wealth to marry for contractual purposes instead of out of love for one another. Another critic also discusses “Louise’s struggle for selfhood against ‘society’s decree’ for female ‘selflessness, being for others.’” (Berkove 1) This decree he speaks about is directed toward “patriarchal blindness about women’s thoughts.” (Berkove 1) This knowledge makes it more understandable as to why she “had loved him – sometimes” (16) as well as why she is able to look at this sad event with joy and a sense of being able to start over. There is another symbol that is seen twice in the story: the staircase leading to and from Mrs. Mallard’s room. In the beginning of the story after “the storm of grief had spent itself” she “went away to her room alone.” (15) Mrs. Mallard is then found in her room where she is able to reflect on the events of her life and how