Search for Freedom in The Story of an Hour
In the early 1900s, marriage was comparable to a master-and-slave relationship. The role of the woman in the marriage was minimal. The woman’s place was in the house, caring for the children, cleaning the house, and doing other “womanly” tasks. Chained to their husbands, marriage became prison to many women; the only means of breaking free from these bonds being the death of a husband. In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard lives for an hour, experiencing rebirth into freedom and death when that freedom is lost.
While sitting downstairs, Mrs. Mallard grieves over the loss of her husband, and over her new-found freedom. His death tears out everything from right underneath her very own feet. Dependent and heartbroken, everything she relies on her husband for has now become her responsibility. Weeping “with sudden, wild abandonment….,” Mrs. Mallard allows her emotions over her husband’s death to flow freely, thus displaying the grief she feels for the loss of Mr. Mallard. However, like most cases of inclement weather, this “storm of grief” will dissipate soon, and the dawning of a “new spring” day will be upon her.
Upon passage of her “storm of grief,” Mrs. Mallard retreats to her room in order to obtain tranquility. Standing before the open window, she begins to take in the “elixir of life” and thus triggers her rebirth into freedom. Looking out the window, Mallard views “the new spring life,” symbolic of the dawning of a new day or of her born-again experience. “Trees…aquiver with new spring life…breath of rain in the air….a distant song which some one was singing…[and] sparrows twittering…,” all provide evidence for the rebirthing experience occurring to her. Sitting “quite motionless,”...