Symbols Of Freedom In Chopin's The Story Of An Hour

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Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” comprises clashing expectations and desires in an ironic fashion. The protagonist, Louise, mainly desires to live life free from the will of others—to “live for herself.” Her brief liberation comes from the news that her husband had died that morning in a train crash. From that moment onwards, the story revolves entirely around the idea of freedom, including several metaphors and visual images depicting free will, eventually culminating in the protagonist’s ultimate freedom--death. However, the idea of freedom cannot form without having experienced bondage in some form. I argue that the focus of this work lies in its theme and symbolizations of both liberty and subjection. The symbols of the open window, the…show more content…
First, Louise’s husband overarches the whole narrative and provides Louise with the impetus to desire freedom. Several narrative examples point to his (and indeed, society at the time’s) overbearing and controlling nature toward women. Louise cannot help but think that “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” Although broadly philosophical of civilization as a whole at the time, within the context of the story this quote paints her husband as insensitive and controlling, making him a figure of her entrapment. Louise’s musings about a future without her husband makes his death a symbol of freedom. Prior to moving downstairs for the climax of the story, Louise prays hoping “that life will be long.” She remembers only yesterday she dreaded the thought of a long life. As of this moment, she accepts a reality where she became free. Consequently, the appearance of her unharmed husband after her grandiose daydreams of autonomy render Louise stricken dead, freeing her from her daily woes and her fantasies. Thus, Mr. Mallard comes to serve as both a symbol of overbearing servitude as well as liberation, though the latter did not occur as any character within the story
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