In Kate Chopin's short story, "The Story of an Hour," a young woman named Louise Mallard is in the last hour of her life. She suffers from a condition of her heart when she learns of her husband's death. "Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death"" (532). Louis has been trapped in a stifling, loveless marriage in which her husband has controlled her for years. The author uses symbols in her story to help the reader understand what Mrs. Mallard was going through in the last hour of her life. .
Louise's heart is used a symbol to let us see the irony in the story. The condition of her heart was not a physical issue but an emotional one. Mrs. Mallard's heart is in despair due to her sadness of a husband who doesn't love her. "She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death: the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead"" (533). Her heart was broken and she wanted to be free of the bondage of his tyrannical rule. "She said it over and over under her breath: "Free, free, free! "Free! Body and soul free!" " (533) because she was also bound to her home due to the way her husband, his friend, Richard, and her sister Josephine treated her heart condition and she felt trapped. When she realizes her husband is still alive, she dies. "When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease of joy that kills" (534). The irony was that she died of sorrow because she thought she had been set free of him, but others assumed it was because she was happy to see him alive.
The author uses an open window as a symbol to represent how Mrs. Mallard felt about the new life she would have. "She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. " (532) Spring is warm and she needed to feel warmth in her new life and she sees blue sky which gives her a feeling that all the dark clouds in her life have diminished.