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In "The Story of an Hour" Kate Chopin tells the story of a woman, Mrs. Mallard whose husband is thought to be dead. Throughout the story Chopin describes the emotions Mrs. Mallard felt about the news of her husband's death. However, the strong emotions she felt were not despair or sadness, they were something else. In a way she was relieved more than she was upset, and almost rejoiced in the thought of her husband no longer living. In using different literary elements throughout the story, Chopin conveys this to us on more than one occasion.
In the third paragraph of the story, Chopin describes Mrs. Mallard as she goes into her room and sits on an armchair. Chopin describes how Mallard ?sank pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted the body and seemed to reach into her soul?. In this point of the story Chopin uses symbolism connecting Mrs. Mallard and the chair, the chair representing the death of her husband and her feelings about it. How it was ?a comfortable roomy chair?, she is showing us how Mrs. Mallard was ?comfortable? with her husband?s death and now felt she had room to exist freely. This is supported by the lines ?she would live for herself now. There would be no powerful will bending her in the blind?? This demonstrating to the reader that she felt controlled by her husband, and that she would no longer bet tied down to the ways of the time, which were men control women. This also supported by Jennifer Hicks in her overview of the story which states " Later, when we see Mrs. Mallard "warm and relaxed", we realize that problem with her heart is that her marriage has not allowed her to "live for herself"."
Another example of how Mrs. Mallard was more uplifted than brought down by the news of her husband?s death is the description of the window. As Mrs. Mallard looks out Chopin explains ?she could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all a quiver with new life?. This is telling the reader about the new life that Mrs. Mallard can see in the distance that symbolizes the new life she saw that lay ahead of her now that she was free of her husband. This thought being supported by Hicks in saying "The revalation of freedom occurs in the bedroom"
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"This feeling; freedom, is obviously something Louise hasn?t felt for a really long time. She now rambles on about that she loved him, but now she is perfectly happy and more than that with the fact that she had regained her freedom."
This supporting the idea that, at the same time she felt liberated, she also felt some sadness because someone she new, and new loved her had died. Mrs. Mallard was somewhat conflicted about her husband?s death.In showing her guilt for feeling liberated we see that she is not a monster but simply someone who had no choice in the life she had to lead with her husband alive. Chopin conveys this to us in saying ?And yet she had loved him, sometimes?. In the Howard article on Chopin it is stated that " When mallard alive and healthy returns, she dies of the "joy that kills", so the doctors believe. This supporting the idea that Chopin is showing us the irony irony of the story is that when Mrs. Mallard discovers her husband is not dead and in fact very much alive, she is killed by an overwhelming oncoming of emotion.
Throughout the story we are shown that Mrs. Mallard is not a woman of her time.. Chopin uses literary elements of irony and symbolisim to convey the true feeling of her character. We are show the feelings of a woman who was not necessarily blittled by her husband but restrained by her marriage due to the time she lived in.
Chopin, Kate. ?The Story of an Hour.? Third. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin?s, 2006.