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.

Read the study guide:
The Story of an Hour

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