Discussion Question 1
The Story of an Hour is a short story by Kate Chopin that takes place over a very short time. The story's main character is Louise Mallard, who has just received the news of the death of her husband. The story's events primarily occur in her bedroom, the staircase, and the front door of her home. The actions are confined to a small space to express essential themes.
The limited space symbolizes the suffocating nature of Louise's life. Louise's room is described as "a comfortable, roomy armchair" in which she sits and weeps when she first hears the news of her husband's death (Chopin 15). Also, the armchair is symbolic; it shows the mental and emotional turmoil experienced in the marriage. The limited setting also allows the author to focus on the psychological state of Louise Mallard and examine her internal emotions, thoughts, and feelings. As a result, it makes it easy for readers to enter the mind of Louise and have an insight into the struggles she goes through as a woman in a traditional and patriarchal society.
Moreover, the staircase and front door represents the possibility of escape and freedom. When Louise initially hears the news of her husband's death, she retreats to her room and sits in the armchair. However, as she begins to process the news and imagine life without her husband, she becomes increasingly excited at the thought of her newfound freedom. The imagery of the staircase and front door heightens the emotion, which symbolizes the path to freedom and autonomy.
Additionally, Louise experiences emotional turmoil as she fights against societal expectations: "she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She seemed to be oppressed by a great weight of mystery" (Chopin 16). She was feeling miserable about losing her husband and also wanted to embrace her newfound freedom.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, edited by Michael Meyer and D Quentin Miller, 12th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s 2020, pp. 15-16.