Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is an excellent short story of tragic irony. The beginning of the story opens with Mrs. Louise Mallard being told by a friend of her husband that her husband, Mr. Brently Mallard, has been involved in a terrible accident and is now dead. They tell her carefully because of the fact that she has a heart problem. Although one would assume that this indeed is the beginning of a hard time for Mrs. Mallard, as the story continues the reader begins to see that this is not the case. Throughout the story, Chopin uses various images to reveal the different themes. The most prominent theme is that of rebirth. The purpose of this paper is to examine more closely the theme of a new beginning and to see how this adds to the effect of tragic irony.
The first instance that the reader witnesses Chopin's imagery is when Louise leaves the company of her sister and her husband's friend and enters her room by herself. As she is sitting in a chair and looking out the window, she sees new life beginning all around her. The trees outside her window have new leaves growing on them. The smell of rain in the air symbolizes the beginning of life and her new awakening. Perhaps the most vivid symbol appears at the end of this paragraph. It states: "The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eves." The distant song reaching her represent the new life she wishes to lead calling to her. The sparrows are joining in this song and also represent the springtime and he beginning of new life.
Another dramatic scene using imagery of rebirth is found when Louise's sister, Josephine, tries desperately to retrieve her from her room where she has secluded herself. Josephine believes that her sister is going to make herself ill worrying all alone. On the contrary, Louise is feeling the joy of freedom for the first time since she has been married to her husband.