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The Story of an Hour is one of the works by Kate Chopin (1851-1904) as a short story whose plot lasts only an hour. The story revolves around a young woman who in the story is known as Mrs. Mallard. The main event revolves around Mrs. Mallard receiving news about the death of her husband Mr. Bently Mallard. Chronologically, the setting of the story is based on the last two decades of the 19th century, but in the story, the setting mainly unfolds in Mrs. Mallard's bedroom. Basically, the story is concerned with the manner in which Mrs. Mallard receives the news about her husband's supposed death.
In the Story of an Hour, freedom is the very essence of life. This is seen in the story clearly as it unfolds.
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That freedom is one of the most essential values in life is a notion which is well played in the unfolding of events in the story. At the most tragic hour in Mrs. Mallard's life, it is the sense of freedom which gives her a positive scope on life, and all that pertains to it. While it is clear to her that her husband is dead and that at least she loved him, yet there is a ray of hope which permeates her room and into her min and heart. This sense of freedom is seen in the fact that Mrs. Mallard comes to the realization of the prospects of not living under subservience. The subservience is brought about by the fact that Mr. Mallard always used to bend Mrs. Mallard's will. This totally dissipated the essence of life which is freedom, especially on the side of Mrs. Mallard. The veracity of this state of affairs is well seen in the fact that it is this oppression as a (direct antonym of freedom) in marriage which actually denudated the love that Mrs. Mallard had for her husband.
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That it is this oppression which undermined the love in this marital union is a matter which is well seen in the instance where the love that Mrs. Mallard had for her Bently is mentioned, but is less acknowledged by her, immediately the oppressive hand of Mr. Bently Mallard as being exerted over hers, comes to mention. Thus, that freedom is a matter which is of the greatest essence in life, is well seen. Herein, readers are treated to an interesting twist of irony. While it is expect that as norms would have it that the meaning of life should be found in companionship and life, in the Story of an Hour, Mrs. Mallard finds the meaning of life after the supposed death of her husband. This is not because Mrs. Mallard hated her husband. On the contrary, this happens since, when alive, Mr. Bently Mallard almost always yielded to the penchant for forcing his will over that of Mrs. Mallard, his wife. This made not only the marital life, but the entire life to lose meaning, especially for Mrs. Mallard.
In another instance, the author through the use of direct speech underscores the reality of the freedom which Mrs. Mallard realizes so that at the comprehension of the nature of this freedom, she is engrossed in the monologue saying "Free, free, free." While taking to stock, the profundity of this freedom. It is with the realization of the prospects of living in the absence of forceful will that for the first time, while sited on the 'comfortable, roomy armchair' her pulsation increases, causing blood to course through her body and thereby warming her body, and making every inch of her body to relax. At this juncture, the author uses a lot of symbolism to convey this standpoint. For instance, the comfortable roomy armchair is seen to symbolize comfort and security which both stay on, despite Mr. Mallard's death. The open window is similarly seen to symbolize Mrs. Mallard's connection to the external world, and life as a whole.
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The gravity of this work of artistry which is symbolism has far reaching implications in the story. It is after the supposed exit of Mr. Bently Mallard's oppressive presence that his wife is able to see or perceive things outside the window, as they are: the tops of the trees that are aquiver with the new spring of life, the singing of birds (sparrows) that are twittering in the eaves and the delicious breath of rain (that) was in the air. All the above examples of the new perceptions that Mrs. Mallard had underscore the factual irony that at the supposed death of her husband, she started being alive, again. One must not misconstrue this to mean that Mrs. Mallard never loved her husband. On the contrary, it is Mr. Mallard's oppressive or forceful nature which made Mrs. Mallard forfeit any meaning of life. Simply put, although Mrs. Mallard loved her husband, the death of Mrs. Mallard yet meant, the absence of this oppression and the turning over another leaf in life which would be characterized by freedom galore. It is the prospects of living in freedom which makes Mrs. Mallard to start perceiving things better and in a new way. Mrs. Mallard virtually becomes alive to the reality and beauty of her surroundings. The fundamentality of this freedom as being inextricably important in life is seen in the fact that immediately Mrs. Mallard appears, thereby symbolizing the dissolution of this freedom, Mrs. Mallard dies.