The Hand in “The Story of an Hour” by Chopin
The Hand in the story exhibits that paradox of life that is faced by women. This is so with respect to freedom. Ideally, all people have the freedom to do as they please so long as they can withstand the consequences of their actions. However, for the woman, she does not have this luxury. The hand (the force that controls her) is very strong in her life.
It returns time and time to curtail her freedom when she thinks she has indeed cut loose. On her part, the woman has learned to live with this overriding force (the hand) in her life. When she gets freedom she ensures she enjoys it to the fullest. When the hand returns, she masks her worries, becomes valiant, and reaches for the huge hand and kisses it, ’’she leaned over and humbly kissed the monstrous hand’’.
By doing this she is stopping the source of her fears and welcoming freedom. In the hand story, the woman says, “I’ll tell him not to varnish his nails”. She has reconciled herself to the truth that she is not free yet and for her freedom is a value she fights for continually until she achieves it – she lacks freedom but has not given up seeking and finding it.
The upstairs and downstairs in the story of the hour are symbolic. Since women are usually under pressure in marriages, when their husbands disappear they experience freedom by going upstairs. In the story of the hour when the woman went downstairs and opened the door, she realized her husband still existed. The downstairs symbolize the reality that we live in and even if we escape it for a moment we usually come down to it.
Freedom is symbolized by upstairs where the woman feels free from the hand’s pressure and wishes to stay there completely. The woman in the hand is in the upstairs when she is newlywed because her hopes are great and she is happy and when she gets freedom by deciding what her husband can or cannot do. She suddenly goes downstairs when she realizes that her husband is a monster and she is scared of him. The joys and dreams she had when she was newlywed are now shuttered and now life is a nightmare.
The hand has so much impact in the life of the woman. For ages, women are expected to serve their husbands and family and women get into marriage hoping this will change, ‘’others have ideals the marriage will be different and more equal’’. But this never happens we can see the woman suffers and has no freedom even in her own house. In the bedroom which is believed to be a sacred place separating you from the world of monsters, it is where the monster lives. The woman is not safe even in the bedroom. She is lying with her husband in bed but she is scared.
The hand symbolizes the scary husbands who never give the women freedom. The woman wonders how she came into the state of living with this man in the same house and even though she doesn’t seem to know him. She realizes the hand had a curve on the little finger which she had never noticed. The hand keeps on twisting beneath the woman’s body and this makes her uncomfortable and feels as if she is lying on an animal. The hand is bigger than her whole body symbolizing how it exercises authority unjustly and oppressively.