The Irony in the "Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

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Where Does the Irony Lie? : A Deeper Look into the Plotline of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” (1894)

Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” has been used countless of times to represent and sometimes even define the very essence of the element of fiction that is irony. As I closely examine Chopin’s thousand word short story though, I find faults in its plotline that make me question whether the story truly revolves around the story’s irony or if the irony is in the narrator’s tone after all and that there is a deeper tale in this literary piece. As the news of the tragedy that is her husband’s death is laid upon her, Louise Mallard wept. As normal as you might think this reaction is, when you really ponder upon it, you will realize that if you were Louise, you would not have reacted in the same way. The reality of the situation would not have been your initial thought and you wouldn’t have wept just yet. You do not simply accept such news and welcome them with tears, you get shocked and you ask questions. You would have been in a stage of denial. And then you would have gotten angry, bargained to change the situation, before you got all depressed. It is the way it is; this is the natural process of heading down the road of acceptance. This is based on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler’s “The Five Stages of Grief”, where dealing with loss is set in this order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Where is the denial in our “protagonist”? One does not simply accept a spouse’s death without asking for further explanation. Especially when one receives such news in the way that Louise did, I mean, seriously? Broken sentences? And you just understand that your husband is dead as if it were the most normal thing in the world? As if you saw it coming? The so-called grief that had clouded over Louise, after crying in her sister Josephine’s arms, seems to have ended a bit too abruptly as she decided to go up to her room. I find it disturbingly baffling that after she received the news of her husband’s death, what she decides to do is to cry in her room. Come on, shouldn’t she be looking for her husband’s corpse, at least? The sudden shift in the emotions of Louise Mallard is greatly bewildering. From the grieving and intense dejection, Louise is suddenly happy with the realization that she is finally a free woman once again. She suddenly forgets all about the loss of her husband and imagines an exciting life she is to lead as a lady with no husband to restrict her from anything. According to the BARES Model of Shifting Emotions, emotions are to be shifted intentionally once you have gotten a clear grasp of what you are really feeling and accepted these. It says, Once you recognize an emotion you are feeling, you may decide that this particular emotion isn't helpful for you in that moment or circumstance. In the case of Kate Chopin’s heroine though, the shift in her emotions were completely out of left field. Then again, we will be able to recall from the short story that Louise’s emotions had changed as she was staring out the window looking at patches of the blue sky surrounding the world as if something was reaching out to her from above. As insignificant as it may seem, this could actually have had a contribution to our heroine’s shift in emotion. Page 89 to 90 of Understanding Human Emotions article Nature and Human Emotions, explains that the human emotions are unlikely to have been unshaped to fit our environment given some factors that include the evolutionary theory, biochemistry and sociobiology. This study though, also states that it is quite limited and may or may not give one’s emotions a perfect fit to what the environment projects due to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Also, grief is too strong an emotion to be shifted so fleetly into such a positive and utterly opposite emotion. Yes, the environment affects our emotions. Yes, clouds are definitely calming. But certainly, clouds won’t...
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