The Story of an Hour
The beginning of Kate Chopins The Story of an Hour presents a woman who is about to be told that her husband has been killed in a railroad disaster. Louise Mallard suffers from a heart condition so her sister and friends must break the news to her as delicately as possible. Immediately after hearing the shocking news, she reacts just as one would imagine by weeping as she ran off to her room alone. However, the reaction quickly shifts as with her husbands passing she is overcome with joy as she realizes that she no longer has to live for anyone but herself.
The open window that Louise gazes from is a key symbol which represents the freedom and opportunity that is now possible now that her husband has died. When looking out of that window from her armchair she notices the beautiful nature outside of the window. "The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves." She feels a sense of freedom which she has obviously not felt for a long time. Thoughts begin to flourish through her head as the open window provides a bright view into her own future now that she is no longer confined by the demands of another human being. Louise begins to become excited and livid as she realizes that she is now an independent woman. As she saw the "patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window" she feels the clouds lifting from her own life as she lets the words Free, free, free! escape her lips.
The author suggests that marriage during the late 1800s are inherently oppressive. Although Louise admits that her husband was kind and loving, she is still overcome with hope and joy when she believes he has died. The epiphany that she has while looking out of the open window shows the inherent oppressiveness of all marriages, which in their nature rob people of their independence.