The Story of an Hour Themes and Literary Elements
Ashford university ENG125
November, 14 2014
The major theme in Kate Chopin's “The Story of an Hour” is freedom. In the beginning of the
story the scene opens up and we are introduced to Mrs. Mallard who has been told that her husband
has died in a horrible train wreck, Mrs. mallard reacts to the news like any other wife would. Yes, she
is upset so she excuses herself and rushes off to her bedroom to be away from everyone who has come
to see her. While in the room we as the reader see a completely different side of Mrs. Mallard. She, in
some sense, is happy; yes she is upset that her husband has died, however she now has this new found
freedom that she did not have before.
When she abandoned herself a little whispered
word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said
it over and over under the breath. “free, fee, 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 fat, and the coursing blood warmed and
relaxed every inch of her body.
Here for the first time you see Mrs. mallard coming out of her shell, once she is behind closed
doors she can truly express what she is feeling. Mrs. mallard, in some sense, knows her place; she
knows that she dared not express these types of feelings in front of her family and friends. In some
sense she knows her place in society and even though her husband has died she is still supposed to
keep that stature of a woman in that time period.
Mrs. mallard has now been reborn. She is now free, free from the shadow of her husband. Mrs.
mallard is up in her room, she is standing in front of her window and everything around her is in full
bloom, spring has arrived. Winter has now died and spring has now been born. In some sense the same
applies for Mrs. Mallard, the winter being her husband and spring being her new found freedom has
One literary element that “The Story of an Hour” has in it that relates to the theme is symbolism.
Her change of name and how she is referred to in the beginning Mrs. mallard, at the end, Louise. There
are similes throughout the story. “She carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of victory.” Irony is
seen throughout the story. “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of joy that
Because such a short story leaves no room for background information, flashbacks, or excessive
speculation, Chopin succeeds in making every sentence important by employing an almost poetic
writing style. “She uses repetition to highlight important points, such as when she repeats the word
open throughout the story to emphasize the freedom of Louise's new life.” (Sparknotes 2007)
At first freedom seems like a terrible thing for Mrs. Mallard, who's restricted in a lot of ways: through
her marriage, by her bad heart, and even inside her home. On the other hand, she has considerable
freedoms as an upper-class married woman. “She can tell freedom is coming for her and she dreads it.
Once it arrives though, it feels her with overpowering joy.” (Shmoop 2008)
The symbols of the story affect the narrative theme. Such symbols as heart disease; the heart is
traditionally a symbol of an individuals emotional core. The first sentence of the story informs us that
Mrs. Mallard has heart troubles. Her physical heart problems symbolize her emotional heart problems
as it relates to marriage. Mrs. mallard: keeping in mind the above examples of an ailing heart, Mrs.
Mallard could be said to represent women of her time period who were unable to find happiness with
marriage and motherhood, not because it is not found, but because their freedoms within marriage are...
Bibliography: Schmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11) The Story of an Hour Theme of Freedom and Confinement .Retrieved November 12 2014 from http:/schmoop.com/story-
Sparknotes Editors. (2007). Sparknote on the Story of an Hour. Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://m.sparknotes,com/short-stories/the-story-of-an-hour/
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