What examples of foreshadowing are in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Foreshadowing is the use of clues that hint at future events. There are two good examples of foreshadowing in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour." The very first sentence hints at Mrs. Mallard's ultimate fate. It is revealed that she has "heart trouble" and her sister is careful in breaking the news that Mrs. Mallard's husband has supposedly been killed in a "railroad disaster." At the end of the story, she does indeed die of "heart disease." Her death is ironic because the doctor's believed she died of joyous shock when her husband appeared at the front door quite alive. She actually died from the shock that she would have to go on living under the benevolent "repression" of her husband. She had recently been entertaining thoughts of her new found freedom without the conformities of being a good wife. 

More foreshadowing is revealed in the moments after she has been told of her husband's death. She is distraught and goes to sit alone in her room, but rather than describing the scene as gloomy and sad, Chopin says that while Mrs. Mallard sat alone in her room, quite the opposite happens. Chopin writes,

She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air...The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.

The "new spring life" is symbolic of her new life, free from her husband. Because of his death the world is now alive with deliciousness and song. She realizes in this moment that her life will now be very much worth living and a life that once seemed too long, now is not long enough. Unfortunately, her revels are ended within an hour as her husband reappears and she drops dead of a sudden heart attack.

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The newfound freedom Louise Mallard contemplates will not last, and the reader begins to realize it when the narrator uses the foreshadowing words "brief moment of illumination" to describe Louise's epiphany. Louise thinks about how no person has the right to "impose a private will upon a fellow-creature," but the narrator foreshadows that this will be only a fleeting thought since Brently Mallard reappears at the story's end to bring Louise's freedom to a sudden and tragic end.

Just before Louise leaves her room to go downstairs with her sister, Louise breathes a "quick prayer that life might be long." There wouldn't be any reason for readers to think otherwise since she has already been described by the narrator as "young," and so it is foreshadowing that Louise's life will, in fact, suddenly end with the shock of grief and disappointment that overtakes her upon her husband's return.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One might also read the extra caution of Brently Mallard's friend, Richards, in confirming the news of Mr. Mallard's death as a bit of foreshadowing. The narrator tells us that Richards is in the newspaper office when the news of the railroad accident comes in, and this is how he learns that Mr. Mallard's name is on the list of people killed in the disaster.

Further, Richards "had only taken the time to assure himself of [the truth of the report of Mr. Mallard's death] by a second telegram" before he rushed to tell his friend's wife the news. The story is so very short that each sentence must be packed with meaning. The fact that the narrator spends almost an entire paragraph on the details concerning the care taken to confirm the death, so as not to unnecessarily upset Mr. Mallard's presumed widow, is an indication of its importance to the story.

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The Story of an Hour

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