Symbolisms And Imagery In The Story of An HourIn one of the saddest tales of married life ever to be written, Kate Chopin shows us that the struggle for a woman’s identity within a marriage has been a centuries old fought battle. Within her short fictional tale is the story of a one woman’s struggle to cope with the sudden loss of her husband.
She portrays the inner battle of Mrs. Mallard regarding how she now leads her life as a married woman. Indeed, it is a sad day for any wife when a person comes up to you and says “I am sorry your husband is dead.” But, depending upon the pre-existing marital conditions, a wife will definitely display one of two emotions, that is intense sadness or intense joy masquerading as sadness.
Part of the wonder of Kate Chopin’s writing lies in her wonderful use of symbolism in order to describe emotions and situations. Early on in the story, we get a glimpse of the hidden side of Mrs. Mallard as she is described as having accepted the news of her husband’s death “with sudden wild abandonment.” (Chopin).
Such a description gives us a glimpse into her controlled character and how she has needed to repress it over the years. It is understandable for most people of that time to view her reaction as an open display of grief because women during that era were subordinate to their husbands. but, unlike most women, Mrs. Mallard had a part of her personality that was just waiting for a chance to break free.
The chance came upon the purported death of her husband.Clearly, when Ms. Chopin wrote that, ” There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.
” (Chopin), she was undoubtedly symbolizing the weakness and repetitive comfortability of her life that did not bring her security but instead weariness at not having a moment to herself to even enjoy the comfortable chair while her husband was living.Something that struck me very much about the character of Mrs. Mallard is that although she was portrayed as a weary housewife, she was actually quite young and should have had her full life ahead of her. According to the author, Mrs.
Mallard “… was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength.
But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.” (Chopin) Clearly this indicates that she was a woman of substance. Who had her own independent thoughts and emotions which she had to keep repressed because it was not normal during that time to be anything but submissive to her husband and accept his authority over everything about her, including her state of mind.
With the passage “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.
” We come to realize that perhaps she was happy during the early part of her marriage but that has since changed. She stopped being happy within the marriage when she finally had to submit and become her husbands follower instead of partner. She suppressed that part of her that wanted to tell him her own opinions and other things. But with his death, she was now free to become an individual again.
The marriage had literally sent her personality into a comatose state but, with the death of her husband she was now free to live again and live on her own terms.There is a lot more to the imagery and symbolism that is presented so vividly within the story and I have presented but a few of the elements supporting It’s theme of love, a sense of imprisonment, death, and freedom.;Work Cited”The Story Of An Hour”. The Story Of An Hour – Study Text.
6 February 2008. ;http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/storyofhour.html;.;;;