The stories, The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and the Significant Cigarettes by Rose Tremain seem to revolve around the theme of freedom, despite being written in different contexts. In the Story of an Hour, the key focus is on a young lady named Louise Mallard who experienced intense emotional changes after she receives her husband’s death news, although these delightful emotions ends tragically after discovering he is still alive. On the other hand, in the story Significant Cigarette, much of the focus is on a young man named Lev, who is travelling to another country with different cultures. In both the stories, despite the different contexts, the theme of freedom seems to be clearly reflected.
Freedom in the Story of an Hour
?In her expression of freedom in The Story of an Hour, Chopin time settings to reveal the inner desires of Louise against the restrictions on women during the 1980s. While the actions happens in the ‘spring’ season of the year, which means hope, Louise’s expectations and the reality seem to be conflicting. Her desire for a kind of freedom that she could not clearly is evident since the environment shows lively and flourishing nature, as “she could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air…” (Chopin 1). As the sounds of the nature reached her grieving heart, Louise seems to be sensing a sigh of hope and freedom. As such, Chopin successfully used nature to reflect a sense of freedom that Louise craved for.
?Nonetheless, when she learns that her husband is dead, she goes upstairs of her house, enters her bedroom, and closes the door and breathes a sigh of relieve as reflected in her expression of being “free, free, free….there would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself” (Chopin 2). This reflects how Louise had been yearning for such a freedom which she gets after learning that her husband would no longer control her life, since during the 1980s women were exclusively subject to men’s will.
?Further, the use of symbolism in the story by Chopin is clear evidence on how freedom in the story is illustrated. First, the closed door that separated Louise and her sister reflects a sense of freedom from surroundings. While Louise wept for her ‘dead’ husband, we can see things changing for her, as reflected in the ‘open window, a comfortable, roomy chair’ (Chopin 1) which reflects Louise’s true inner feelings of freedom, the ‘blue sky’ can be considered as an indication of hope, while the ‘twittering sparrows’ reflect a sense of happiness. Altogether, we can see Louise’s desire for a new life, just as reflected in her environment.
Freedom in the Significant Cigarette
?The story ‘Significant Cigarette’ revolves around a young man, Lev, who was relocating to a new country. After several miles in his journey, despite knowing it is not allowed to smoke in the bus, Lev takes out a cigarette and sticks it between his lips, and he soon reminded by the lady sitting next to him that, ‘I’m sorry but there is no smoking allowed in this bus” (Tremain 1). This context reflects Lev’s desire for freedom, despite the restrictions in his environment. The writer leaves readers trying to imagine the intense craving that Lev had, that forced him do try to do the prohibited just to satisfy his longed desires. The aspect of freedom is eminent in this context.
?A sense of freedom is also evident in Lydia, a lady Lev was travelling with to the England, as reflected in her enthusiasm in her new job as a translator in England. Being tired of daily routines and same structures as a teacher seem to have had become boring to her when she expressed that, “I became tired of the view from my window, every day summer, winter, I looked out at the school yard and the high fence and the apartment block beyond and I began to imagine I would die seeing these things” (Tremain 3). Her new job seems to be a freedom from her boring life as a teacher in Russia.
?Lev’s freedom from the hardship and poverty he had been brought up with as reflected when she describes how his father “used to sleep upright, in summer, on a hard wooden chair” (Tremain 2) is also evident in the story as he yearns for a better life in England. Despite being nervous on how his new life in a different culture he is not used to would be, his freedom from struggles and hardship are evident and he seems enthusiastic towards her new destination.
?In conclusion, this paper has presented how freedom is expressed in the two stories, ‘The Story of an Hour’ and the ‘Significant Cigarette’ despite the two stories being taught in different contexts. In the Story of an Hour, the author employs symbolism and environment to illustrate freedom as yearned by Louise, whereas in the story, Significant Cigarette, the author illustrates how Lev and Lydia were escaping to freedom in a foreign country, away from their home country. Nonetheless, despite the different contexts, the authors successfully bring out the theme of freedom explicitly.