Flexibility in The Story of An Hour
Kate Chopin’s “The Story of An Hour” is a narrative in which the title refers to the quantity of time in which the lead character, Louise Mallard, is informed that her partner has passed away in a railway disaster and also finds out that he lives after all. Mrs. Mallard appears to have mixed feelings about her partner’s death; initially feeling sorrowful and grieving, but then she begins to feel a particular freedom. In “The Story of An Hour,” Chopin uses meaning, images and irony to represent a lady’s reactions to the death of her partner signifying the problems in her marital relationship.
The window in Mrs. Mallard’s space is symbolic of the flexibility that she wants to have. After the news of her partner’s death, Louise grieves as the majority of people do and weeps frantically. Once she is done weeping she closes herself up in her room, permitting no one to enter, and sits dealing with the open window. Through the open window she sees “spots of blue sky” that peek through “clouds that had met and piled one above the other” (Chopin par. 6). The blue sky signifies her new future– a future of flexibility, while the dense clouds represent her regression.
Chopin utilizes this symbolism/imagery to represent Louise Mallard’s contrasting emotions of grief and expect flexibility. In paragraph 8 where the storyteller describes Mrs. Mallard, she is referred to as young but shows signs of repression with a far away gaze. The images of the “dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was repaired away off yonder on one of those spots of blue sky” shows readers that Mrs. Mallard is not gazing out the window blankly due to the fact that she is grieving, but because she is hoping and longing for flexibility.
When Josephine, her sis, begs her to unlock for fear of Louise making herself ill, Louise informs her to disappear and the narrator describes that she wasn’t making herself ill. She was really “drinking in an extremely elixir of life through that open window” (Chopin par. 18). Her space is like a cage and the window is the escape, the blue sky is her liberty. The situational and dramatic irony of the story is that everybody believes Mrs. Mallard passes away of delight that her husband lives, when she actually dies of dissatisfaction of his return.
In the last paragraph, after Mr. Mallard comes to the house, Mrs. Mallard “die [s] of heart disease- of joy that eliminates” according to the doctors (Chopin par. 23). It is ironic due to the fact that the readers know that Mrs. Mallard wasn’t delighted with her marital relationship and was happy at the thought of freedom that her spouse’s death implied for her, while the other characters thought that she passed away of pleasure.
In “The Story of An Hour,” Kate Chopin utilizes significance, imagery, and irony to portray to readers the problems in marriage according to the protagonist Mrs. Louise Mallard. The space Mrs. Mallard remains in after the death of her other half is like a cage (likewise how she sees her marital relationship), and the window is symbolic of her liberty. The imagery of the description of Mrs. Mallard, in addition to the scene beyond her window, portrays her conflicting emotions of her hubbies death, her marital relationship, and her future of flexibility. The situational and significant paradox shows readers how Mrs. Mallard was viewed as a young, loving, devoted partner to the characters in the story, while on the inside she wished for freedom.