A Study of the Springtime Imagery in the Story of an Hour Essay
The “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is a great work of fiction of the 1890s. A reading of the story reveals that it deals with the inner feelings of a woman and portrays how greatly she craves for freedom in a male-dominated society. The most interesting aspect of the story is the way it uses powerful imagery to convey the characters’ inner feelings to the reader.
The first such spring representation comes from the existence of a “window,” which Mrs. Mallard uses to view the world around her sitting in her “armchair”. This “window” is used by Chopin early in the story to show how limited the life of women was in the 1890s in America. They had very limited freedom to go out and engage in various activities as men did. Anyway, the “window” functions as the symbol of how Mrs. Mallards views the world. While Mr. Mallard is capable of traveling freely and enjoying freedom, Mrs. Mallard is totally dependent on the “window” for her interaction with the outside world.
When the sad message was broken to Mrs. Mallard, initially, there is a “storm” of sorrow that disappears after a while. The outburst of emotion that subsides after a while is compared by the author to a “storm,” expressing how Mrs. Mallards felt when the shocking news is revealed to her.
However, after the initial outburst of emotions, one can see that the thinking of Mrs. Mallard changed, and the author uses spring images to communicate this. For example, as she sat in her room and digested the reality, what she saw through the window was significantly different from what a sad person will actually notice in life. For example, Mrs. Mallards saw the treetops that were brimming with “the new spring of life”. The “spring of life” is sufficient indication that the thoughts inside her mind are not as sorrowful as the reader would normally believe. This doubt is further strengthened as one reads the “delicious breath of rain”.
One who really mourns the death of a dear one is highly likely to find the breath that comes from rain adding to their gloom and the indication of something sinister. In contrast, what Mrs. Mallard feels as she notices the rain is the deliciousness of the “breath of rain”. As Mrs. Mallards prepared her mind to accept the new thoughts, she could see a large number of “sparrows” that were “twittering in the eaves”. Thus, the author tells the reader that the sparrows have finally managed to find freedom in life and are there in the eaves, ready to take off.
Another important spring image is the area where she saw fragments of “blue sky” in the otherwise cloudy sky with rain. The “blue sky” in spring is used by Chopin to convey the idea that Mrs. Mallard is now aware of the innumerous possibilities the situation brought to her life. Thus, she stops weeping and decides to come out and enjoy life, ignoring the rain.
However, the real power of the work lies in its remaining part. By that time, she was happy with the freedom that was offered by the death of her husband and cannot stop saying “free!” repeatedly. She decides to breath one prayer that she might be blessed with a “long” life, exhibits a look that indicates “triumph”, and she walked like the Victory goddess as she was convinced that she would be happy living the life in her own ways. However, what happens to her after this with this newly found freedom often remains under-discussed. As the door is opened, they see Mr. Mallard standing there. This realization was too much for her weak heart, and she dies of heart attack.
However, a thorough analysis of this part provides the reader with a considerably different perspective to consider. Through the imagery, the author wishes to communicate the idea that though she manages to struggle out of the repression from the marriage or the orthodox family system, the world she enters is still masculine, with live “Mallards”. One can guess here that Mr. Mallard who appears at the end of the story, stands to represent the male-dominated society where women will still be suppressed in life.
Thus, the springtime imagery in The Story of An Hour is rather strong and vivid. Using spring pictures, the author manages to communicate the changes happening in her mind. There could be several reasons for the author to use the image to communicate much of the information. For example, the women of the 1890s were repressed as the work indicates, and they had very little chance to express their desires to their satisfaction. Therefore, for them, the situation warranted communication in indirect ways. As a person who lived in that time period, Chopin might have found the imagery as an appropriate way to communicate the feelings of women instead of saying it explicitly.
To conclude, The Story of An Hour by Chopin is a reflection of the time period it was written. It shows how the existing social setup resulted in the repression of women and how it made them find important social institutions like marriage, meaningless and selfish. It is this feeling commonly shared by women of that era that led to the creation of the fiction. Suiting the time, the author has decided to use spring imagery to portray the inner feelings and thoughts of women in a meaningful way.