In "The Story of an Hour," Mrs. Mallard closes the door to her room so that Josephine cannot get in, yet she leaves the window open. Why does Chopin make a point of telling the reader this? How might this relate to the idea of being "free" and to the implicit idea that she is somehow imprisoned?

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The short story "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin tells of a young woman who hears from her sister Josephine that her husband has just been killed in a railroad disaster. Her immediate reaction is to weep, and then she goes up to her room alone.

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The short story "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin tells of a young woman who hears from her sister Josephine that her husband has just been killed in a railroad disaster. Her immediate reaction is to weep, and then she goes up to her room alone.

Closing the door is symbolic of shutting out her old life. Sitting down in the armchair facing the open window represents her openness to the possibility of a new life. She does not immediately recognize this possibility, however. What lies beyond the open window beckons to her and reminds her of the freedom that in her marital bond she has all but forgotten. She views the treetops vibrant with the life of spring and patches of blue sky with clouds. She feels a hint of rain in the air. She hears the cry of a peddler, someone singing, and birds twittering. All of these sensations are reminders that awaken the urge for freedom within her.

Only at this point does she understand how her husband, with his "powerful will bending hers" subjugated and oppressed her. She experiences great joy in the realization that she will be free to live her own life and make her own decisions.

We can see, then, that closing and locking the door shuts her off from her past, leaving the window open makes her vulnerable to thoughts of freedom, and external stimuli from the window enables her to realize that she has been imprisoned by the will of her husband. It is also symbolic that when she turns and opens the door and she finds out that her husband is still alive, she is again imprisoned by the past, and the realization of her lost freedom undoubtedly contributes to her heart attack and sudden death.

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The open window is an important symbol of freedom and opportunity in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour." When Mrs. Mallard first hears of her husband's death, she sits alone in her room in front of the open window overlooking the street. She takes note of the sounds and sights outside of that window. She hears birds singing and a peddler calling; she sees the blue color of the sky and the puffy clouds. And then she has an epiphany. The window is the means by which Mrs. Mallard's epiphany comes about.

We learn that Mrs. Mallard has felt quite stifled in her marriage. She says that, although her husband was not a bad person, he was controlling. But now she can act as she wants, think what she wants, and be who she wants to be:

There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.

All Mrs. Mallard can think of is her freedom. She does love Mr. Mallard and is upset over his death, but she realizes she now has a chance to live. As a married woman, she had never been able to make her own decisions. Although she was not literally a prisoner, Mrs. Mallard's will was suppressed, and she was compelled to give in to her husband's will. Now, as a widow, Mrs. Mallard will have the freedom, sanctioned by society, to make her own choices without worrying about what others think.

Chopin uses the open window as a symbol of opportunity. Mrs. Mallard's life is about to change, and she thinks she will have many opportunities for happiness.

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In addition to the important detail of the window being open, however, Chopin is clear to say that the door in closed. No one can get in. The secret places in here heart are closed off as well, and she cannot and does not express her need for freedom to anyone. In addition, the closed door keeps her locked. She can dream by looking out the window, but she can not escape her life--she can not escape through that window. The only escape is closed. The ending reaffirms that her only escape from her life is death.

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Leaving the window open certainly relates to Mrs. Mallard's freedom. If you read the passage again, she notices all of the wonderful things of life that are happening below, things she's never been a part of. It was only a short time ago that she prayed for her life to be short, and now she's praying for it to be long because she can now live the life she wants for herself, not the life of her husband. The window represents her freedom to be able to live her life now that her husband is dead. The open window is her invitation to live her life to the fullest, free of her husband's restrictions and free of her responsibilities as a wife. This is why she feels like a prisoner in the house.

Chopin wants us to know how women felt during this period of time. Mrs. Mallard says her husband never mistreated her, but she still feels imprisoned in the institution of marriage. She isn't free to express herself or to try things she's interested in. This point is really brought home in the ironic ending when Louise Mallard dies when she sees her husband is still alive. Although the others think she dies because she's so happy to see her husband is alive, she really dies because her freedom has lasted only a short time. She can't accept the fact that she has to go back to her old life and lose the dreams she had while sitting and looking out the window.

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