The Story of An Hour
In “The Story of an Hour,” Kate Chopin uses characterization, symbols, and conflicts that suggests that in certain situations, the death of a loved one may be a blessing. Such situations may include an abusive relationship, or an unhappy marriage, as this story suggests. In Chopin’s story although the circumstances might lead the reader to believe that Louise’s husband’s death would cause her great pain, ironically, when she hears the news, she feels a great sense of relief. This suggests that death may not always cause grief.
Louise’s characteristics add to the theme of this story in several ways. One of her characteristics is her youth. This charateristic is important because it is symbolic of a fresh, new start at her life of freedom due to the death of her husband. She has her whol life to live by herself. She will be free to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it.
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Another characteristic of Louise, which also adds to the irony of this story, is her passion for living. She mentions that she will weep again when she is present at her husband’s funeral, but she is able to look past that grim moment and look forward to “the years to come that would belong to her absolutely.” Just when she is beginning to savor the sweet sense of freedom, her husband shows up at their house alive. When she sees him, she dies, not from the “joy that kills,” but because she is heart-broken and shocked at the rality. She dies because she realizes that since he’s not dead, she will not be free. The drastic halt is too much for her to handle.
There are a few symbols in the story, which are symbolic of Louise’s life of freedom. The spring day symbolizes a new beginning of her life in which she is free. Spring is the time when living things propagate and are reborn. Likewise, Louise believes she will become productive, energized and reborn.. Louise has her whole life of freedom to look forward to.
A second symbol is the open window in her bedroom. The window suggests that there is no material object standing in the way of her new life. There is a clear passage between her life for captivity to her life of freedom. Her husband was the only person holding her back, but now that he’s gone, she’s able to look forward to the future when she can live her life for herself.
The most important conflict in this story is appearance versus reality. To all the people it would appear that Louise would greive over Brently since they would assume she wad happily married and content in her sub-serviant role as a housewife. Louise’s sister Josephine exemplifies such a judgment of how Louise’s reaction to the sudden death of her husband, Brently. Josephine misinterprets Louise’s behavior, thinking she is hysterical over Brently’s death. She pleads, “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door- you will make yourself ill.” To Josephine Louise appears to be heart-broken, but in reality, Louise is relieved by his death.
Louise’s friend, Richard also has mistaken notions of how Louise will react. He rushed over to tell her of the “sad” news, when unknowingly to him, it is very good news to Louise. An ironic aspect about this story is the fact that Richard rushes over to tell Louise of the news of her husband’s death and is too late to block Brently’s view of his wife. If he was too late getting the news to Louise, Brently would have made it to the house first, and Louise would have lived her life as she did previously. Richard was, in a way, responsible for Louise’s death.
The doctors judgment of how Louise dies also deals with the appearance versus reality conflict. For example, the doctor predicts that Louise died from the “joy that kills,” believing she was so overcome by the joy of seeing her husband alive, she is physically incapable of dealing with such a strong emotion of joy. But she actually dies because her free life has come to a sudden stop. And is heart-broken that she will not be able to live her life as she hoped she could, alone.
Another conflict in this story is the role of the wife versus the role of the husband. For instance, Louise struggled with her feelings about her marriage for years. Louise thinks “what could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being.” She admits that she did love Brently, but often she did not. On the other hand, the story suggests that Brently was completely content in the marriage and assumed that Louise was too. This conflict is reflected in Louise’s internal struggle. When she realized that Brently is alive, she must die. This is the only way she can win the freedom she was struggling for within herself. She dies because he is alive, he is ultimately responsible for her death.
Kate Chopin’s goal or the theme of this story is to suggest that women are expected to maintain the role that society implies on them. Men are made out to be superior and women are to do what they say and are to serve them. In this story, this fact id what cause Louise to feel the way she does about Brently’s death. She is tired of being stuck idoing whatever he expects her to do.She looks forward to being independent and free. Although death is supposed to be a sad time, not all situations would support that. For example, if a person has been suffering for quite some time, it would be a blessing that he or she died. At least this way, you know that he or she is not suffering anymore.