Symbolism in The Story of an Hour
Length: 369 words (1.1 double-spaced pages)
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Several symbols in Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour" create a feeling of comfort, wellness, and wonderfulness within the reader's mind. The first symbol I will speak of is the "comfortable chair" which she sinks into after the news of her husbands' death. Then, I will speak of the open window, which she sits in front of through which she sees many symbols of things that are good. Finally, I will speak of the description of Mrs. Mallard herself and her comfortable situation, which will tie together all the symbols that create the feelings of comfort and wellness in the reader.
The armchair in the story in which Mrs. Mallard sits after secluding herself in her room upon hearing of her husbands' death is described as "comfortable" and "roomy." The chairs' location is also important, it is facing an open window, this symbolizes being open to change, and the fact that it is open shows that it is somewhat warm out suggesting life rather than the cold of winter symbolizing death. The adjectives "comfortable,"" roomy," and "sank" symbolize a feeling of being embraced by the chair, a feeling of love and warmth.
Through the open window she sees many other symbols furthering the feelings of goodness in the reader. She sees the tops of trees that "were all quiver with the new spring life" symbolizing a new life to come, something new happening in her life. The setting of a "delicious breath of rain" in the air refers to the calmness after a storm when the sun comes back out. Kate Chopin is using this to refer to the death of Mrs. Mallards' husband and the new joyous life she may now lead that she is free of him. Also to be heard outside are the singing of birds and the notes of a distant song someone was singing, symbolizing an oncoming feeling of wellness, a build up to her realization that she is now free of the tyrannical rule of her husband.
Mrs. Mallard is described as being young and having "a fair, calm face" symbolizing the beauty and innocence of a child. Brently Mallard had repressed her, and now through this seemingly tragic event she is freed of his rule over her and she is able to go on with her life.
The reader feels for her when she explains the way she had only loved him sometimes, but more often didn't, and how in the coming years she would be able to live for herself and no one else.
When you decipher these symbols for their underlying meanings you see then how Kate Chopin worked on her story to give the reader a good sense of comfort and wellness in the reader. The three symbols we have discussed are just a basis to start digging into the story; so much more can be pulled from the word choices and objects presented in the story if you just give the effort to look into it.