Kate Chopin’s impressive literary piece, The Story of an Hour, encompasses the story of an hour of life, an hour of freedom. We must seize the day and live our lives to the fullest without any constraints. This very rich and complete short story carries a lot of meaning and touches a readers feelings as well as mind. Throughout this piece much symbolism is brought about, which only helps us to understand the meaning and success of Kate Chopin’s work. Kate allows her reader to think and allows us to understand the meaning of her story with the different uses of symbols such as heart troubles, the armchair, the open window, springtime, and the calm face and goddess of victory. We eventually realize little by little that Mrs. Mallard experiences the luck of happiness and freedom in her life, but we come to understand its meaning only at the end of the story.
“Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.” Learning about Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble in the opening sentence of the story is how the death of her husband is announced. We the readers feel sad for her and assume she is upset as well. We expect her to feel even more pain and ill after hearing about her husband’s tragic death. The physical heart problems that Mrs. Mallard is afflicted with symbolize her emotional heart problems of her uncertainty of her marriage and her unhappiness with her lack of freedom. Her weakened heart begins to race as she reflects on her new life—her new life of freedom and independence. Joy pumps through her body and the thought of her being free to live the life she wants and not in the shadow of her husband anymore fills her with happiness.
“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 comfy armchair is a symbol of comfort and security in spite of her husband’s death. This is where the story takes a positive turn and where Mrs. Mallard begins to recognize her freedom for the first time. The open window is symbolically Mrs. Mallard’s connection to the world and fresh start at life. Sometimes we open windows to let new fresh air in and let the old air out. She was getting rid of her old life and was finally accepting and loving her freedom and the new opportunities to come after the death of Mr. Mallard.
As her tears fade sitting in her comfortable armchair adjacent from the open window, she stares out into the new spring life. The four seasons spring, summer, fall, and winter are symbolic of the stages of our life. Chopin chooses spring as the season for this story to symbolize the new life that Mrs. Mallard thinks is awaiting her. Her husband’s death is no longer a burden to the life she will be living, but is key to the life she had been missing. “She could see in the open square before her...