Analysis of Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour

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The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin is set in the 1890s and is narrated in the third person by an unknown narrator. The story is short and comprises the sequence of short paragraphs which enable the reader to understand the intention of the author easily.  Additionally, the narration employs various structural and stylistic techniques to capture the attention of the author and achieve the goal of depicting the major themes.  One of the techniques used by the writer is symbolism.  In literature, symbolism entails use of word, situation, person or object to represent something else while creating a particular emotion or mood (Kennedy and Gioia 121).  The story utilizes different forms of symbols to illustrate the themes of marriage oppression, freedom, independence and identity.  

Firstly, Louise’s heart condition is the symbol of how she feels imprisoned and crushed in the marriage. In the western culture and art, hearts are frequently utilized to symbolize love thus the heart trouble is not only physical but also psychological in nature (Wan 168).  Further, the heart condition is meant to represent the women of the 19th century who were not able to find motherhood and happiness in marriage since their freedom was restricted.  Based on the story, the writer suggests that marriages are oppressive since Louise feels joy after realizing that her husband had an accident despite admitting that Mr. Mallard was a loving and kind husband.   For instance, the author states that she loved her husband sometimes but often did not which demonstrates the possibility of weakness or absence of love in their marriage.  Additionally, the author depicts that “there would be no powerful will bending her” which explains the joyful feeling of Mrs. Mallard after realizing her husband had an accident hence indicating that the marriage was oppressive (Chopin 54).

Moreover, the door to Louise’s room represents her soul’s inner sanctum and mind which creates the themes of independence and acquired freedom. She retreats to the room and closes the door after which she stays for a long time such that her sister looks via the keyhole and begs the door to be opened (Wan 170).   The door symbolizes the private life and freedom as well as illustration of her real feeling without concern of what others are thinking about.  Mrs. Mallard was able to observe “the tops of trees with new spring of life” which represents the beginning of new life after the end of an oppressive marriage.  In addition, the open window offers the clear and bright view to Louise symbolizing freedom and independent in the future.  Also, the chair that Mrs. Mallard sits in after hearing the accident news is a symbol representing Louise’s escape from the repressive marriage.  The chair is described as “comfortable roomy armchair” which suggests that Mrs. Mallard has the room to move around with her life without marriage restrictions (Chopin 57).

Besides, the author demonstrates the theme of identity by making the reader recognize Mrs. Mallard’s first name through Josephine.  The word Louise symbolizes that Mrs. Mallard has obtained a new role in her life after the death of Mr. Mallard. She is no longer trapped, restricted or confined in the marriage thus she is free to express herself (Wan 169).  Based on the introduction of the first name, Chopin suggests that ladies lose their individuality or identity when married since they are dominated by men. 

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour: Short Story. HarperPerennial Classics, 2014.

Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Pearson, 2013.

Wan, Xuemei. “Kate Chopin’s View on Death and Freedom in ‘The Story of an Hour.’” English Language Teaching, vol. 2, no. 4, 2009, pp. 167–70.

August 21, 2023

Art Literature

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