Death After Freedom in Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour

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Death after Freedom
Written by Kate Chopin, the short story “The Story of an Hour” follows Louise Mallard, a woman from the nineteenth century who has just received the news that her husband, Brently Mallard, has passed away in a horrific train accident. Immediately Mrs. Mallard is overcome with grief and sorrow, but her mood quickly shifts when she realizes the independence and free-will she will now have. At the climax of her elation for the future, her husband walks through the door. Mrs. Mallard, shocked and speechless, dies of a heart attack. In the short story, "The Story of an Hour," author Kate Chopin utilizes symbolism, diction, and irony to emphasize the effects of Mrs. Mallard's newfound sense of freedom, and how that ultimately results in her death.
To start off, this short story is packed with an abundance of symbolism that further highlights the emotions that Mrs. Mallard was feeling after hearing the devastating news of her husband’s death. Although she is instantly overcome with grief upon hearing the news, there were ‘’patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds…” (Chopin 476). These patches of blue sky represent the plethora of opportunities that await Mrs. Mallard now that she has been given a fresh start, with total and unrestricted freedom. Shortly after, Louise begins to comprehend how her husband’s death has in turn completely changed her life for the better. In addition, Mrs. Mallard’s heart troubles also bear a symbolic significance. Her physical heart complications symbolize her discontent with her lack of freedom in her life and marriage. In contrast, when Mrs. Mallard initially realizes the liberty and independence that she now possesses, “her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood w...

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...r passing. The abundance of literary devices highlights Mrs. Mallard emotions when she was finally given the freedom she had been longing for throughout her entire life. In the end, the nineteenth century male-dominated society reigns supreme once again, and “when Louise ceases to exist in relation to the patriarchal society around her, she ceases to exist at all” (Cunningham 53).

Works Cited
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. 11th . New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2013. 476-477. Print.
Cunningham, Mark. "The Autonomous Female Self and the Death of Louise Mallard in Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour.” English Language Notes 42.1 (2004): 48-55. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.
Jamil, S. Selina. "Emotions in the Story of an Hour." Explicator 67.3 (2009): 215-220. Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.