Mrs. Mallard herself is symbolic of the role women often found themselves trapped in during the latter part of the 1800s. Bound to husbands via laws and societal expectations which forbade them to own property, govern their own finances, or obtain meaningful employment outside their homes, women often longed for more. Thus, Mrs. Mallard's reaction to the news of her husband's death reflects what women of this era sought for: freedom.
Patches of blue sky appear just after Mrs. Mallard receives the news of her husband's death, symbolizing the hope in her new situation. Just as the sky was previously draped in a gray gloom, Mrs. Mallard has existed for years under the same gloom of monotony, hopeless that life will improve. The clouds begin to break just as Mrs. Mallard's situation changes, symbolizing the hope she feels for brighter days ahead.
An hour, referenced in the title, symbolizes how quickly a person's circumstances can change. Mrs. Mallard begins the story thinking "with a shudder...
(The entire section contains 4 answers and 807 words.)