The Symbolism Of Story Of An Hour By Kate Chopin

Decent Essays
The symbols of Story of an Hour link the protagonist with the pressures of her time period. This short story, published in 1894, written by Kate Chopin features a main character named Louise Mallard. Throughout the story, which takes place over the course of a single hour, Mrs. Mallard's weak heart along with her death symbolize the societal pressures of the time period, and depict the life of a 19th century woman.
In the 1800's, gender roles greatly affected the everyday lives of women, who were expected to become housewives, clean, and take care of children, whereas men were expected to work and provide an income for the family. The feeling that overwhelmed Mrs. Mallard is even described as, “…powerless as her two white slender hands would
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Mallard's weak heart symbolizes how women were perceived as fragile. Due to this, family and doctors treat her gently with the news, and “…great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death” (Chopin). Others assume that her husband dying would be a traumatizing event. However, she feels quite opposite. Mrs. Mallard feels liberated, as if the window to her new life had finally opened. She was free from the restriction of marriage. However, when she realizes her husband survived the train crash, the shock kills her. Mrs. Mallard dies of disappointment, not joy, as the window to her new life free of the restraint of marriage becomes slammed shut as her husband opens the door. Chopin could have easily ended the story on her short lived moment of happiness, but chose not to, as to represent a greater meaning. An entire life cycle takes place throughout the story, represented similarly to the way an hour takes place on a clock. Ms. Mallard, caught in a restraining marriage is freed by the news of the death of her husband, welcomed into the start of her new life. However, when her husband is found to be alive, her new life has lost what it needs to continue, resulting in her death. Chopin chose to kill Louise because the brief moment of happiness and relief that Louise felt for a moment was not a reality for women in this time period. Chopin uses the death of Ms. Mallard to illustrate how desperate women felt at the time, as a happy ending was often not the
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