illustration of a woman in a dress standing as if she were in shock

The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

Start Free Trial

What is the dream in "The Story of An Hour," and how is it deferred? Even though it is written in prose, does the story use poetic devices, such as metaphors and sensory imagery? What are they in this story, and what do they symbolize?

The dream that the main character Louise has in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin involves the freedom she will enjoy now that she believes her husband has died. Chopin describes beautiful poetic springtime images Louise sees from an open window that help inspire this dream. The dream is deferred when her husband appears alive.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the short story "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, a woman named Louise Mallard learns of the death of her husband in a train wreck. After her sister Josephine tells her the news, Louise briefly weeps in her sister's arms and then goes alone to her room. When she sits in an armchair in front of an open window, she has a realization that she is suddenly free from the oppression of her husband's authority. Her husband had never deliberately mistreated her, but now that he is dead (or she believes that he is), she contemplates that

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.

The dream that she then has is a result of this freedom that she imagines for herself. She daydreams that she will be able to "live for herself." She will enjoy many spring and summer days and live a long life, able to do what she wants and make all of her own decisions without an overbearing husband planning her days for her.

The dream is partially brought on by the beauty that she sees outside the open window. The gorgeous spring day is a metaphor of her awakening to a new, unfettered life. Chopin uses lovely poetic imagery to describe trees "aquiver with the new spring life," a "delicious breath of rain" in the air, the song of a distant singer, and sparrows twittering in the eaves. All of these sensory details are symbolic of the wonders of the life she has envisioned for herself.

However, Louise's wonderful dream is deferred, or rather cut off, by reality. Her sister Josephine knocks on the door and pleads with her to open it. Even as she begins to accompany Josephine down the stairs, Louise still clings to her dream. She has "a feverish triumph in her eyes," and she carries herself "like a goddess of Victory." Her husband suddenly comes through the door, though, alive and well, and Louise dies of a heart attack, probably from the shock of seeing him.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team