The Story of an Hour, which is a short literary work about a woman who thinks that she has become a widow, was written by Kate Chopin in the 1890s. In her short story, the author describes the metamorphoses and the inner dialogue of Louise, whose husband, as far as she knows, has just died in a railroad accident. Instead of having typical reactions to such enormous stress, the protagonist suddenly understands that she finally feels free from her unloving husband and is no longer expected to be supine before a man. An open window in Louise’s room symbolizes liberation, the emergence of new opportunities, and revival, but she is not destined to become happy.
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A window in the protagonist’s room is one of the basic symbols in the story as it allows to illustrate new opportunities that arise thanks to the accident. After the woman manages to suppress her first negative reaction to the event, she enters her room and sits down to look at “the open square” of the window and better understand her feelings and future plans (Chopin). A bit later, the reader is given access to new details of her life story, including an unhappy marriage and the suppressed desire to “live for herself” (Chopin).
From Louise’s thoughts, it becomes clear that, in her deepest heart, the woman has always wanted to feel that she has got her whole life ahead of her. However, in reality, their relationships with the husband prevented her from seeing and capturing new opportunities. She probably stopped dreaming in that unsuccessful marriage, and the window filled her with the courage to strive for a better life by enabling her to see the outside world.
The discussed object can also be regarded as the symbol of liberation since the window finally shows her the world that irradiates happiness and freedom. Basically, the theme of freedom permeates the story and is presented with the help of multiple symbols, with the window being the key one. The window is the most important thing that enables the “widow” to see the outside world and perceive its colors, sounds, and motion. It is the “open square” that allows her to have a look at different things that remind her of her long-expected freedom from fake happiness (Chopin). For instance, the woman can see sparrows that are free to fly anywhere and are not expected to stay in one place and take instructions from someone else.
Apart from becoming free from the need to pretend to be a happy wife, the window seems to act as a symbol of revival and liberation from the pangs of conscience. Before looking in it, the woman faces “the storm of grief” and even seems to feel sorry for not being an exemplar mourning wife (Chopin). Then, the aesthetics of nature fills Louise with joy and makes her accept her freedom without a sense of guilt. Another symbolic meaning of the open window is revival and refreshment. When Louise refuses to let her sister enter the room, the reader is told that she is “drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window” (Chopin). After long years of boredom and fake happiness, she finally feels as if she has found a well of life and the source of strength and inspiration.
To sum up, by connecting Louise with the world outside of her house, the window acts as a symbol of liberation from the sense of guilt and being expected to support the illusion of happiness. It also symbolizes revival and new opportunities to change lives for the best. Thus, it can be concluded that the object basically presents a window to Louise’s new life without shame, the need to hide her true feelings, and colorless days. However, her liberation turns out to be illusory as she finds out that her husband is still alive, and it shows that cooking a hare before catching him is fraught with the pain of disillusionment.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. American Literature, 1894. Web.
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