In The Story Of An Hour, a short story written by Kate Chopin, the desire for independence from male domination was illustrated. This theme represents a common sentiment from oppressed women in the nineteenth century. Louise Mallard, the protagonist, reveals her true feelings about her marriage to Brently Mallard. After hearing the news of her husbands death, Louise weeps not for her loss, but for her freedom. Through the context of the story and the use of symbolism, Chopin helps us understand why the feelings of bitterness and longing for freedom are present.
Louise Mallard symbolizes the mind frame of females during the time of liberation. Louise and Brently Mallard had a very traditional marriage in which she was the one staying at home and doing all the household chores, while he was going on business trips. She played the role of a loving, traditional, young housewife. After seeing her husband travel, she too wanted to go and have her own adventure. Since women were not permitted to do what men were doing at the time this story took place, Louise was jealous of her husband. Soon her love for him became bitter and she eventually despised him.Order now
Hearing the news of her husbands death in a railroad accident, Louise Mallard, who had heart trouble, isolates herself in her room. She sits in her armchair looking out the open window. She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life (5). Chopin uses the open window and a spring day as symbols of freedom. The open window in her room symbolizes that there is no material object interfering with her freedom. Her husband, the only one holding her back, was no longer with her. The spring day is a new beginning for Louise in which she has found liberty.
Louise feels a great sense of peace knowing that he is no longer coming back and she can go out whenever she wants without his consent. Louise contemplates a new life of independence for herself. Louise thinks about her life of freedom due to her husbands death. She said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free! (11). Even though Brently was not the best husband he was a caring man according to Louise. But, Louise still wonders about her newfound freedom. She knew she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead.
But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome. (13) According to Chopin, Louise is happy to have looked past beyond the unhappy days of her married life and to her eternal liberty as a new woman. While Louise has a passion for living, she begins to savor the sweet sense of freedom. She finally gets out of the room. She arose at length and opened the door to her sisters importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory (20).
When she goes downstairs, she notices someone at the front door. It is Brently Mallard, her husband. After seeing her husband, Louise immediately dies. She dies because she realizes that since he is not dead, she will not be free. But, according to the doctor, he said, she had died of heart disease- of joy that kills(22). In the eyes of everyone around her, Louise seemed like an ailing woman who was terribly brokenhearted after her husbands death. She does not die from the joy that kills, but because she is heartbroken and shocked at the reality.
Her freedom has been taken away now and she does not want to be a traditional housewife again. In Kate Chopins, The Story Of An Hour, the irony of the story is that instead of a husbands death causes pain and grief; there is a sense of relief. Louise Mallard denotes the mentality of women during the period of independence. Her struggle as a feminist woman in the nineteenth century is epitomized. The cause of her death is the astonishment of knowing that her husband is alive. If she were still alive, her life would not have been liberated from the male dominated society in which she had lived.