What is the symbolic meaning of "like a goddess of victory" from the story "The Story of an Hour"?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the story, Chopin uses a lot of imagery and symbolism to represent the freedom and joy that Louise Mallard feels after the initial shock of her husband's death.  She uses symbolism in the weather outside of the window as Louise sits in the chair in her room.  Out the window, she sees "the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. ...and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves."  One would expect a stormy sky, lightning and thunder, but Chopin uses the setting to foreshadow the freedom that Louise feels at her husband's death.

As she rises to leave the room, "There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory."  The goddess of victory represents Louise's triumph and victory over "repression", over the "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" which she had felt so restricted by in her marriage.  It represented the coming years and how "Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own."  She was victorious, a strong, independent woman who would thrive on her own, just like goddesses are strong, independent, and rulers in their own right.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having been informed that her husband has been among the victims of a great train wreck, Mrs. Mallard, who is "afflicted with a heart trouble," retreats upstairs to her bedroom, where a transformation occurs in her: Louise Mallard later emerges as "a goddess of victory."

Although she has loved her husband, Mrs. Mallard has been repressed under the feme covert laws of her society. But now that she has learned that she is a widow, alone in her bedroom facing the open window as she sits in a comfortable armchair, the full impact of what has happened in her life reaches her.

There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it fearfully. What was it?

Finally, the realization hits her: "free, free, free!" And it is a "monstrous joy" that comes to her at this moment as she knows that she can go where she wishes, and she can do what she wants. It is this powerful knowledge that causes Louise Mallard to emerge from her chambers "like a goddess of victory." At this point, Mrs. Mallard feels that she has won against the repression of her life.

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The Story of an Hour

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