Symbolism is a vital literary tool, whose adoption maximizes the reader’s attention into the proceedings of a story, or any other form of literature. In The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, there is a peculiar use of symbolism, elucidating the overall theme of the story. The author prevalently uses symbolism to capture the attention of the reader, explicating the theme of the forbidden joy of independence and the oppressiveness of marriage. Some symbolic aspects are used in the connection to the story’s theme, making it interesting and captivating for the reader. The author successfully manages to interconnect the overall story’s message with the symbolic aspects, creating a fascinating and mesmerizing piece of literary work. The aim of this analysis is to explicate the use of symbolism in the story, and an illustration of how it relates to the story’s theme and message. The linkage of symbolism to the story’s theme is effective, bettering the unfolding of events, and maximizing the level of suspense in the reader.
Heart trouble is a major symbolic application, representing the ambivalence towards marriage, and unhappiness, owing to the lack of freedom. Kate Chopin effectively utilizes the symbolic application to better the unfolding of events in the story. The reader’s mind is captivated throughout the story. Louis, Mrs. Mallard, has a heart condition, and thus people tiptoe around her ensuring that they deliver messages in the best way to avoid any harm (Chopin 181). Her heart troubles risk her getting heart attacks, making it a major concern for the people around her, precisely in the announcement of Mr. Mallard’s death. On the realization that her husband is dead, and she will experience the freedom that she always wanted to have, her heart races fast. The heart problem is a symbolic aspect representing the problems that Mrs. Mallard is experiencing with her marriage, owing to the lack of freedom. The heart trouble is thus a symbolic representation of the challenges facing her love life, and the thought of her husband’s death result to an absolute joy, owing to the fact that she believes she will acquire all the freedom she has always wished for but restricted by her marriage. However, the sight of her husband downstairs on the doorstep causes her shock, owing to the heart problem, resulting in her death (Chopin 182). In other words, her problem with marriage results to her death, as the heart problem kills her.
The Open Window
The open window through which Louise Mallard gazes is a symbolic representation of her freedom, as well as the opportunities that await her on the onset of her husband’s death. As illustrated in the story, she sees a blue sky, treetops, fluffy clouds, and even hears people and birds singing. The explication is a representation of joy, which comes from the freedom brought about by Mr. Mallard’s death. The open window is thus symbolic, causing Mrs. Mallard to think of her life without her husband, a life full of joy and freedom. She will get to do all that she had wished for, without adhering to anyone’s opinion or decisions. The fact that the window is open, yet Mrs. Mallard does not cross it to the outside world signifies that the freedom and joy are only delusional, and will not be experienced in the near future, and probably never (Chopin 182). Evidently, Mr. Mallard is still alive, and the sight of him in the doorstep frightens Mrs. Mallard, resulting in her death. She had already indulged in fantasies, which bore no fruit in the end. Conclusively, it is evident that the turn from the view of the window is symbolic of the loss of her freedom, which remains to be a mere fantasy.
Death is symbolic, playing the role of representation of the constant fear facing the Mallards, as well as people affiliated with them. There is grave fear of death, as people fear that it will majorly affect Mrs. Mallard, owing to the heart condition. The Mallard’s house is hovered by the fear of death like a constant specter, with people striving hard to keep it away, through the protection of Mrs. Mallard from shock. However, the news of Mr. Mallard’s death comes at an unexpected time, since he had no illness, raising the level of risk of shock on Mrs. Mallard. This results in a lot of tension among the people expected to deliver the information to Mrs. Mallard. However, the information turns out to be false, and the cause for alarm changes, to the fear of shocking Mrs. Mallard on the realization that his husband is still alive (Chopin 181). On his arrival, Mrs. Mallard perishes, and the doctors term the cause of death as her heart problem. The fear of killing Mrs. Mallard with shock on the conveyance of dreadful news, result to actual death, as the false information provided is the definite cause of her death. The story majorly focuses on how she conceptualizes her husband’s death, only to realize that he did not die, ending up to die herself.
As a summative, it is evident that the linkage of symbolism to the story’s theme is effective, bettering the unfolding of events, and maximizing the level of suspense in the reader. The author effectively manages to capture the attention of the reader through the illustration of symbolic aspects, and relating them to the story’s occurrences, maximizing the reader’s attention. The skillful use of symbolism enables Kate Chopin to develop a captivating story, one with a lot of suspense, a vital component in literature. It is thus important for the reader to understand that the symbolism applied in The Story of an Hour is vital in depicting the events’ unfolding, making the story captivating and interesting for readers.
Chopin, Kate. The story of an hour. Blackstone Audio, 2013. 176-182.