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“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin: House as a Symbol

In “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the house of the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard, has a symbolic meaning. It is connected to the main character’s circumstances and the condition of mind, representing her state of being bound, lacking personal freedom. However, she does not realize it until the particular moment; such a moment appears when Mrs. Mallars is informed about her husband’s death and goes upstairs to her room to stay alone. There, she sits in a “comfortable, roomy armchair … facing the open window” (Chopin 352). This very detail of opposing the chair and the window seems to be the first hint of subsequent inner conflict that is going to possess the woman. The armchair is comfortable; yet, there is something unknown coming through the window, “reaching toward her through the sound, the scents, the color” (Chopin 353). Suddenly, in a “brief moment of illumination,” Mrs. Mallard realizes that, from now onwards, “there would be no powerful will bending hers” anymore (Chopin 353). In her perception, that bend is embodied by her husband and, symbolically, her house. The comfort of the room and the armchair can no longer replace that “unknown” that she has felt outside of the house walls.

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She is drinking the “elixir of life” through the open window when her sister Josephine comes and knocks her door. Together, they descend the stairs, and the act of coming down is also symbolic. Downstairs, she would be thrown from the heaven of her suddenly realized freedom into the reality manifested by her husband that suddenly appears at the doors, alive. Thus, in a moment, the woman is brought back to her house, which is, as she thinks at the moment, her jail.

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Complete Works of Kate Chopin. LSU Press, 2006.

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StudyCorgi. "“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin: House as a Symbol." February 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-story-of-an-hour-by-kate-chopin-house-as-a-symbol/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin: House as a Symbol." February 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-story-of-an-hour-by-kate-chopin-house-as-a-symbol/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) '“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin: House as a Symbol'. 5 February.

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