Freedom and Other Themes in The Story of an Hour

Freedom and Other Themes in The Story of an Hour

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Kate Chopin's story, "The Story of an Hour", focuses on an 1890's young woman, Louise Mallard. She experienced a profound emotional change after she hears her husband's "death" and her life ends with her tragic discovery that he is actually alive. In this story, the author uses various techniques-settings, symbolism and irony- to demonstrate and develop the theme: Freedom is more important than love.

Chopin uses settings to convey particular moods, character qualities and features of theme. Firstly, the author uses time setting to reveal Louise' inner desire and her restrictions. The entire action happens in the "spring" (Chopin 69) of a year in the 1890's. Spring means hope. But woman are restricted by the society in 1890's. The two time settings create a conflict between Louise's expectation and reality. Secondly, the author uses a lot of place setting. The story happens in the house that belongs to Louise Mallard. Most of the time, the author focus on the upstairs of the house- Louise's bed room and the room is closed. We can see Louise is trapped in her house. Her bed room is the only place that belongs to her. So when she heard about the"death" of her husband, she goes to her upstairs bed room, and close the door. "free, free, free" (69), that her true feeling." "She would have no one follow her." (69) that is her desire.

The author uses symbolism as well in this story to support the theme. Firstly, the author uses a closed door as a symbol of separator. The closed door separated her from her sister and her friend. She is free from the surroundings. Although she "wept at once" (69) after her husband's unfortunate, things are changing now. "The open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair" (69) reveals that Louise's true feeling. In the following paragraph, Chopin uses "blue sky" (69) as a sign of hope; twittering "sparrows" (69) as a sign of happiness. The reader can confirm that her husband's death is only a temporary hurdle and she recovers quickly from the grief. Now she looks hopefully to the future, future of independent and well deserved freedom.

Irony is the most significant technique that the author uses in this story. It shows the contrast between Louise's expectation and her limited reality. It also gives the story more twists and turns. The reader knows Louise's desire. However, her sister and her friend do not know.

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As the plot develops, her husband appears suddenly. It is not what Louise expects, and it makes Louise`s dream of freedom break down. In the end, she dies. The doctor, her sister and her husband might think she dies of "joy" (70), but readers know that she dies of disappointment. Author uses irony to support the theme again: Freedom for an 1890's woman is not reality.

Throughout Kate Chopin's story, the setting, symbolism and Irony are used to reveal and develop the theme: freedom is more important than love. But, in 1890's women's roles are limited to their house, though they are eager to know the outside world. Especially for Louise, she is sick and can not like other women to experience life on her own terms. Love becomes a kind of burden for her. Although freedom is important for a woman, society limits her to a narrow role.

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