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True Freedom Theme in American Short Stories

Despite the existing variety of stories and authors, all of them have several things in common. The presence of a theme is usually defined as a major idea of a work that can be stated directly and indirectly (Literary Devices, n.d.). In this discussion, three short stories, “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, “Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed” by Ray Bradbury, and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, will be analyzed through an understanding of true freedom that may be achieved after a person sheds confinements. Although all stories have special subjects, they are good sources for the reader to clarify what makes people free and why time and patience cannot be ignored.

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The theme that true freedom is obtained through confinements is portrayed in each story in its own peculiar way. For example, Poe chooses revenge as the method to achieve true freedom and re-erect “the old rampart of bones” “against the new masonry” (Poe, 2016, para. 88). Despite the intentions to deal with regular mockery and misunderstandings, the main character comes to a conclusion to change the situation “when he [Fortunato] ventured upon insult” (Poe, 2016, para. 1). In this story, true freedom is a possibility to deal with own demons and punish a person in the most terrible way by taking his freedom and life.

The story of Chopin introduces a character who has to face a serious challenge to come to one of the most unpredictable conclusions. The main character gets to know about the death of her husband and, instead of cry, panic, and desperation, she experiences relief and freedom by “body and soul” (Chopin, 2018, para. 14). Only when she is deprived of her main burden is she able to enjoy her true freedom, even though it lasts only several minutes.

Finally, freedom described by Bradbury is unique and educative. In this story, the characters have to take time and stay patient to understand what kind of freedom may be achieved in a new setting and social environment. It is not an easy task to shed confinements quickly. The things that seemed to be “safe” but “insane” in the beginning can become “good ideas” and easy-going decisions with time (The Edge of Nightfall, 2012). The Bittering family shows that the process of change and adaptation (when a person obtains “dark skin” and “golden eyes”) is hard to understand and accept (The Edge of Nightfall, 2012). However, when a person starts participating in such a process, the results may be unexpected.

In general, the characters of the three stories achieve true freedom in different ways. Still, all of them prove that such freedom is a result of hard work. People are free to choose different methods and means, but time and patience remain to be the constants that determine the process of change. In his article, Houlgate (2016) explains freedom as a part of the philosophy of right, relying on Hegel’s works. What do you think about the contradictions between personal freedoms and choices defined in the article?


Chopin, K. (2018). The story of an hour. Web.

Houlgate, S. (2016). Right and trust in Hegel’s philosophy of right. Hegel Bulletin, 37(1), 104-116. Web.

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Literary Devices. (n.d.). Theme. Web.

Poe, E.A. (2016). The cask of amontillado. Web.

The Edge of Nightfall. (2012). Bradbury 12 “dark they were, and golden-eyed” narrated by Paul Frees. Web.

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