When I read Kate Chopin’s, “Story of an Hour” I am reminded of Edgar Allan Poe’s horror poems. The narrator has a “divine transformation” yet it kills her. This puzzles me, so I will search for the true meaning of this strange story (marriage, as I believe). To accomplish this task and to truly understand this short story, I will first learn about Kate Chopin’s life and experiences. Later, I will investigate her use of symbolism in “Story of an Hour” and their’ dual purposes (to the story and to Kate Chopin’s life/how it relates to her) mainly dealing with marriage.
After researching the life of Kate Chopin, her works do not seem so strange, in comparison with her life and grief. Seemingly death and isolation fuel her writings and her disgust for contemporary society. Though she was born in 1850 into an upper-middle-class family, they were IrisH2. Being an Irish immigrant was the worst Ethnicity during the middle and late nineteenth century in America.
This period was full of hatred towards the Irish always being depicted as thieves and scoundrels. This hate escalated to the “Molly McGuire” murders and the hanging of over one dozen innocent Irish immigrants. Furthermore, death plagued Kate Chopin throughout her whole life. At the tender age of five, her father, Thomas O’Flaherty died in a rail accident2. Seven years later, her great grandmother, Victoire Verdon Charleville dies, with who she had been living for six years.
The same year, Kate’s half-brother, George O’Flaherty, dies of typhoid fever3. During the next seven years, she graduated from the Academy of the Sacred Heart and visited New Orleans, which she loves. She marries, Oscar Chopin, they have six children, but in 1882, Oscar dies of malaria4. One year later, Kate’s mother dies. After, moving back to her native St. Louis she beings to write and attempts to have several works published with no success. So begins her struggle with society and herself, which consumes her until her death in 1904.
In 1894, Kate Chopin created my subject of focus, “Story of an Hour.” After several re-reads it becomes more apparent that Chopin uses symbolism to substitute long descriptions and explanations. This allows Chopin to effectively complete the story in just twenty-two short paragraphs.
This symbolism often reflects similarity to Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Similar to Gilman, it is obvious that Chopin is adamantly opposed to the institution of marriage. Therefore, the main purpose of, “Story of an Hour” is to show how marriage is a form of slavery. She believes society holds married women captive. She expresses this by the sudden conviction and the caprice by Mrs. Mallard after the “death” of her husband.
Thus Mrs. Mallard’s “heart condition” represents the lack of freedom and her desire to be released from bondage. Though she does not realize it, subconsciously she knows that society has imposed marriage as the only “good” and “righteous” position for women. Furthermore, societies, controlled by men, give the perception that only through marriage can a woman truly be happy. So her heart starts to collapse because she has given into marriage and thus she has lost her freedom and “free will.”
After she learns of her husband’s “death” she no longer is confined. As she ponders this idea, she releases all the stress and emotions that had been building up during the years of marriage. It is overwhelming, yet as she describes it, “her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.5″ She mumbles “free, free, free5″ uncontrollably as the feeling of freedom takes over her body.
This new “freedom” of Mrs. Mallard, likely is the same Kate Chopin felt after the death of her husband. Her experience with marriage seemingly is very similar to Mrs. Mallard’s, as the role of “wife” was fine for Chopin until her husband passed away. After several years, Chopin finally started to express her feelings through writing and wishes other women should learn of the “evils” of marriage.
Thus I can conclude, at some point, Chopin had a similar experience to Mrs. Mallard’s and thus she modelled this story partly after her life and marriage. To add to the impact Chopin titles this work, “Story of an Hour,” signifying the whole story takes place over a single hour.
As the story progresses the irony and its purpose increase. We get a mixed message from Chopin, in that once Mrs. Mallard has this intervention she can not sustain her life. Thus we are left with the ambiguous question, what causes Mrs. Mallard’s death? To be honest, I am not quite sure of myself.
However, Chopin hints that “freedom” of mind and body is more valuable than life itself. Therefore, she implies that after this intervention by Mrs. Mallard, that going back to the confines of marriage would be killing the life and heart of Louise, thus death is the only solution and of course the “heart condition” foreshadowing an impending death.
Chopin utilizes a unique writing style to express her satirical plot. Through symbolism and first-person perspective, we see her “new thinking” and the apparent reason for death. Yet at the same time, the characters in the story have no clue about her “invention” or plans for the future. Rather they conclude, as the last sentence states, “when the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease.”I believe this has to purposes by Chopin, first, suggests that other women at the time had similar feelings, but just as Mrs. Mallard could not express them to anyone, and second, the total disregard for women and their feelings, as they did not think about her, rather it was her husband, the man, that Louise died for.
In conclusion, I enjoyed Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” and found her unique writing style beautiful. It is very deceptive, only shedding its secrets through vague symbolism and implications. But through researching Chopin’s life story and through analyzing this story I was able to interpret the meaning and purpose of this fine story. Though I have to admit reading Orwell or Hemingway is a bit easier to read and understand, but that just takes the fun out of it!
Example 2 – “The tale of an Hour” as a Feminist Text
Author Kate Chopin is fabled for several of the most seminal feminist stories and novels inside the Western canon. “The tale of an Hour” is certainly one such text. In this story, Chopin addresses most issues which are central to feminism, such as the dedication and expression of a woman’s unique identification distinct through the identity of the woman husband together with a right of a lady to identify and experience her own interests.
Because there is an element of this tale that’s controversial—namely, that Mrs. Mallard seems excited after learning that the woman’s spouse has died—the reader can empathize with Mrs. Mallard’s emotions and support the girl. To get more with this topic, take a look at this and its conversation of wedding and women’s functions.
Example 3 – The Theme of Guilt in “The tale of an Hour”
One of the facets of “The tale of an Hour” that is compelling—both fascinating and repellent—to your reader is that Mrs. Mallard seems excited after learning that the woman husband happens to be killed in a major accident. Mrs. Mallard anticipates the chance of finally being able to live for herself, in the place of for or in relation to the woman spouse.
Instead of condemning Mrs. Mallard for such an emotion, the reader empathizes with Mrs. Mallard. Although her spouse would not seem to be abusive, the reader intuitively understands that Mrs. Mallard felt oppressed inside her marriage now, for the first time ever, she seems the possibility of constructing her very own identity and distinguishing opportunities for her own future.
The most commendable areas of Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is that the author has the capacity to manipulate suspense, surprise, and surprise in an account that is extraordinarily compact. In this article, the author provides a detailed reading and step-by-step explication of the story, paying particular focus on the strategies that Chopin makes use of to build up these three emotions and tensions in the audience. Certain practices that will be examined include characterization.
“The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, is a story of a woman who, through the erroneously reported death of her husband, experienced true freedom. Both tragic and ironic, the story deals with the boundaries imposed on women by society in the nineteenth century. The author, Kate Chopin, like the character in her story, had first-hand experience with the male-dominated society of that time and had experienced the death of her husband at a young age (Internet).
The similarity between Kate Chopin and Louise Mallard can only leave us to wonder how much of this story is fiction and how much is a personal experience. Indeed, Louise Mallard and Kate Chopin’s lives are very similar and ironic. Louise’s life began once she came to the realization that she could live for herself. During this “hour” she felt true joy and freedom, but her life ended abruptly as her husband walked through the door. Like Mrs. Mallard, Chopin’s writing career began once her husband died. She wrote a few collections of short stories, but when she began expressing her feminist views, the critics walked through the door and her life as a writer was over.
The setting of the story takes place at the Mallard’s house when Richards and Josephine find out that Mrs. Mallard’s husband, Brently, has been killed in a train accident. Mrs. Mallard has heart disease, so Richards and Josephine decide to tell her as gently as possible so she will not find out somewhere else and suffer from a heart attack. On the “snorkel” level, the story appears to be about how Mrs. Mallard deals with the news of the death of her husband. On a “scuba” level, however, the story is about the feeling of intense joy that Mrs. Mallard experiences when she realizes that she is free from the influences of her husband and the consequences of finding out that her new-found freedom is not to be. In this wonderful short story, Chopin explains that freedom and life should exist together, or not at all.
Freedom is what Louise Mallard longs for. Mrs. Mallard reacts very differently to the news than a normal wife might react to the death of her husband. She loves her husband but is not happy with her life. After the tragic news, she envisions her life as being fuller. She does not give herself time to think upon the subject but immediately starts sobbing because that was the reaction she thought she should give. Chopin writes, “she did not hear the story as many women have heard the same…she wept at once” (par.3). This was not a reaction of just emotions, but also of how she thought she should react in front of her family and friends.
After locking herself in the solitude of her bedroom, she begins to recognize things that one might not think of after a loved one has just passed away. “ She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life (par. 5).“ This is the point at which she begins to deal with the grieving process but also starts to realize the beauty of life.
She begins to see that there is so much more to live for. “ She sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body “(par. 4). She tries to soothe her hurt and pain, for she can feel the toll it is taking on her heart. She can feel her heart starting to fail her, but she starts to envision her life as being better. “Free, free, free“ (par. 11), Louise chanted. She feels free because Brently is dead, and she can now do everything she’s ever dreamed of. “There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window” (par. 6).” The clouds piled on top of each other represent her heart problem, her husband’s death, and the other bad things that have bombarded her at once.
The patches of blue sky represent the hope of her new and better life that she wants to begin. The hope those things can get better. She understood that there would be no suppression any more, no “powerful will bending” her personality. Filled with the feeling of happiness and vision of the free life, Mrs. Mallard came out of the room. Exactly at this moment, when everything was so excellent, the disaster struck.
Brently Mallard, who was supposed to be dead, entered the house. He reentered Louise’s world and put an end to her new life. Mrs. Mallard knew that all her dreams, visions, and plans, were ruined. At that instant, she was faced with reality. She realized that with his return, nothing would go the way she planned. The life that she hated so much was not going to change. She realized that she would live as Brently’s wife for the rest of her existence, and never experience true freedom.
The same “gray cloud” covered her and the particles of her broken dreams. Unfortunately, Louise couldn’t tolerate the returning of her husband, and she collapsed with a heart attack. As doctors said afterwards, it was the “joy” that killed her. Rather than having freedom and life together, Louise chose to not have a life at all. Ironically, even though her life was cut short, she left it happily to go on, perhaps, to a place where she’d be free forever!
Example 6 – Character Analysis
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is an ironic story because Louise Mallard realizes the independence that she gains from her husband’s death. The moment she realizes this freedom and is willing to take this new way of life into her arms, her husband returns, and she dies. Mrs. Mallard has a revelation of all these liberations she was going to live with, and within minutes, came to a realization of her confinement.
Louise Mallard’s initial reaction to her husband’s death was one that any normal person would have except it is characterized by the happiness that overcomes her as the story develops. Although she is upset about the news of her husband’s death, she comes to the realization of a completely different lifestyle that she has never known before. Independence or freedom are the major differences between her life before and her life now.
She felt content with her life before, simply because she didn’t know any different. She always had someone else’s will pushed against her own, whether it was her father or her husband, she has always had someone to control her life for her. As she undergoes this incredible emotional breakthrough, a great amount of weight lifts off her shoulders because she felt how much her opinion impacted others, and at the same time, she realized that she didn’t have to listen to someone else’s opinions or outlooks on anything.
This new emotional insight is a major turning point in Louise’s life and it is quickly changed by the trauma of her husband’s return. Mrs. Mallard realizes that she now has the ability to live her own life. This realization suffers a drastic change when Brently Mallard, her husband walks in the door.
The exorbitant change comes in when she recognizes that this freedom she has been anticipating is no longer a reality. She is in extreme shock because she was reborn to a new way of life and it was stripped away from her immediately once she acknowledged that she had to live her life with someone else again. She felt like the efforts of her entire transformation of herself was done all for nothing and she might as well die.
“The Story of an Hour” deals with rebirth, emotional breakthrough, and extreme shock. The character Louise goes through these emotions in the period of an hour, as if it were a process. She changes from a woman who is treated like broken china, to a woman who walks like a goddess. And the irony of it all is when she has embraced her freedom and the glory of the years before, her husband returns, and the shock and disappointment kills her.
Example 7 – Ironies In The Story Of An Hour
Kate Chopin employs the tool of irony in “The Story of an Hour” to illustrate the problem relative to marital relationships in which one individual imposes his “private will” upon the other. She presents, through the story of Mrs. Mallard, an issue not socially accepted at the end of the 19th century.
This is the story of Mrs. Mallard, a woman with a heart condition who finds out her husband has died in a train accident. She reacts with sadness at first, but after seeking solitude, realizes that she is free. She is ready to begin her new life when her husband, who was not involved in the train accident, comes home alive. The woman dies from heart failure on the spot.
The purpose of Irony in Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is to convey a message without saying it explicitly. In the context that the story was written, at the end of the 19th century, women were often not allowed many rights. Their role in society was trifling compared to what men had.
Chopin, a feminist ahead of her time, uses irony in this particular story to show the unequal role women had in relationships in the late 1800s. Mrs. Mallard’s discovery of her long lost freedom and desire to live for herself only comes after her husband’s death. The ironic tone in the story is employed by Chopin to present a socially unaccepted concept in a more acceptable format.
In “The Story of an Hour”, Chopin makes use of different types of irony. The first type of irony encountered is situational irony, where there is a contrast between what is expected to happen in a particular situation and what actually happens. After grieving with “wild abandonment” of the death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard seeks solitude in her room.
Now the reader starts to see the world through her eyes, a world full of new and pure life. As she looks out of the window, she sees spring and all the new life it brings. The descriptions used now are far away from death. Mrs. Mallard stares out the “open window” at “the new spring life”.
As for the weather, instead of being gloomy and dark to symbolize death, she sees “patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds.” She also mentions that birds are singing and there is a “delicious breath of rain” in the air, all images not usually associated with death. She is expected to mourn her husband’s death, but in contrast, she is thinking about new life.
At the end of the story, Chopin uses dramatic irony, where there is a contrast between what the audience knows and what the characters think is happening. “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease – of joy that kills.” The other characters are still unsuspecting of her actual joy in death.
They believe her joy corresponds with the love she had for her husband. In contrast, the reader knows that the love she had for her husband pales in comparison to the joy she feels upon the discovery of her newfound freedom.
Mrs. Mallard begins to fantasize about living her life for herself. “Free, free, free!” are the words Mrs. Mallard whispers in her room. Coming from a woman who just lost her husband, one can wonder how was their relationship.
However, Mrs. Mallard clarifies that their relationship is one of love. Brently Mallard “had never looked save with love upon her.” And likewise, “she knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death.” However, love does not seem to be the problem here.
Regardless of the love, she has for her husband Brently Mallard, the problem she sees is the unequal relationship in which one individual exercises their “powerful will” on the other. Even though at times she had loved him, she is now regaining her freedom. Another sign that informs the reader of her new liberation is the revelation of her first name. Her name is Louise, she is no longer Mrs. Mallard, she is Louise, she has her own identity because she is free.
It is ironic to see that it took Brently Mallard’s death for Louise to realize that she was not “Body and soul free!” It seems as if she finds personal strength in her husband’s death, ready to face the world as a whole person. Once Louise Mallard recognizes her desire to live for herself, desire that her marriage will not grant her, her heart will not allow her to turn back.
“The Story of an Hour” is a story of great irony. One that carries a message of hope and freedom. The title itself is self-explanatory: The story refers to that of Louise Mallard’s life. A woman that lived in the true sense of the word, with the will and freedom to live for only one hour.
Example 8 – The Story Of An Hour: Irony
In Kate Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour,” there is much irony. The first irony detected is in the way that Louise reacts to the news of the death of her husband, Brently Mallard. Before Louise’s reaction is revealed, Chopin alludes to how the widow feels by describing the world according to her perception of it after the “horrible” news.
Louise is said to “not hear the story as many women have heard the same.” Rather, she accepts it and goes to her room to be alone. Now the reader starts to see the world through Louise’s eyes, a world full of new and pure life.
In her room, Louise sinks into a comfortable chair and looks out her window. Immediately the image of comfort seems to strike an odd note. One reading this story should question the use of the word ” comfortable” and why Louise is not beating the furniture instead. Next, the newly widowed woman is looking out of the window and see spring and all the new life it brings.
The descriptions used now are as far away from death as possible. “The delicious breath of rain…the notes of a distant song…countless sparrows were twittering…patches of blue sky….” All these are beautiful images of life , the reader is quite confused by this most unusual foreshadowing until Louise’s reaction is explained.
The widow whispers “Free, free, free!” Louise realizes that her husband had loved her, but she goes on to explain that as men and women often inhibit each other, even if it is done with the best of intentions, they exert their own wills upon each other. She realized that although at times she had loved him, she has regained her freedom, a state of being that all of G-d’s creatures strive for.
Although this reaction is completely unexpected, the reader quickly accepts it because of Louise’s adequate explanation. She grows excited and begins to fantasize about living her life for herself. With this realization, she wishes that “life might belong,” and she feels like a “goddess of Victory” as she walks down the stairs. This is an eerie foreshadowing for an even more unexpected ending.
The reader has just accepted Louise’s reaction to her husband’s death when the most unexpected happens; her husband is actually alive and he enters the room shocking everyone, and Louise especially, as she is shocked to death.
The irony continues, though, because the doctors say she died of joy when the reader knows that she actually died because she had a glimpse of freedom and could not go back to living under her husband’s will again.
In the title, the “story” refers to that of Louise’s life. She lived in the true sense of the word, with the will and freedom to live for only one hour.
Love relationships can be different and can be filled with love, regret or a mixture of the two.
“In the Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin The death of Mrs.Mallard’s husband causes her great joy after realizing she no longer has to live for anyone but herself”.
First, you need to choose your argument (your thesis statement, which will appear as the last sentence in your first paragraph). For instance, in “The Story of an Hour,” do you think that Mrs. Mallard was cruel or not? Do you think her reaction says something about women’s rights (or lack of rights) at the time?
You could argue from any angle. Once you’ve decided, you need to come up with subtopics within that argument (points that support it). Each point will be the first sentence of a new paragraph. Under each point, look through the story and find evidence to support that point. Don’t just list it in the essay. Discuss how it supports the point.
Then, when you get to the final paragraph, look back to your thesis. Don’t just restate it; add something new– some final thought.
If you like crime investigation shows, you can think of the whole thing like this: your thesis is the crime that has been committed, and you have to find concrete evidence in the story if you want to prove your case. But just having the evidence isn’t enough. In the rest of the essay, you need to sell it like a smooth-talking lawyer!
Richard appears at the peak of Louise’s ecstasy. She has become so engrossed in the fantasy of being liberated from her husband that his late appearance shocks & overwhelms her physical body. It is also at this point in the story that Louise has begun to question the meaning of love and her own identity.
She has been “Mrs. Mallard” for so long that the news of her husband’s supposed death takes a while to sink in. Louise probably has never forged her own identity, but it doesn’t appear she has ever forged a truly spiritual alliance with her husband. Kate Chopin is rather ambiguous on Louise’s true relationship with Richard, so I’m only taking guesses on this. Louise retreats to her bedroom instead of crying openly like most women. She takes her time, contemplating and eventually fantasizing.
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