The Story of an Hour

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Heart trouble
How might heart trouble be more than a physical ailment? Note that this is the first thing we are told about her and how other people respond to her. Evidently this is--at least for those around her--an important part of who she is. Who took care? Why is this written in the passive voice, with a "hidden" subject? What does this construction suggest about Mrs. Mallard's customary environment?

Veiled hints
Why is she tantalizing her with hints? Is this alerting us that there may be other "veiled hints" in the story? What does this suggest about how the family views Mrs. M.?

In bearing the sad message-
What does this paragraph suggest about Richards' feelings for Mrs. M? Why is he in such a hurry? Is the code of the "southern gentleman" at work here, or could there be more to his concern than that?

Why are we first told how she does NOT hear the news? What does this reaction suggest about her? about how "ladies" were expected to react? Look for repeated uses of the negatives and positives in the story and consider why they might be used.

With sudden abandonment
What does this passionate response tell us about her? This is our first real clue as to what sort of person she is--aside from her reported state of health.

Facing the window,…..
How are the window and chair descriptions suggestive of longing or desire? What do they imply about her ordinary life? Look for other images associated with open and closed.

Haunted her body
What does this very dramatic (even melodramatic) statement suggest about her psychological state? her life? Note the intimate connection between body and soul.

New spring life
Note the contrast of motion and stillness. Why is the time of year so important?

Delicious ordinarily refers to taste. Who is "tasting" here? Why is the word used?

She too has been "crying." What does this detail, as well as the other sensory images, tell you about what she is experiencing?

Patches of sky
How does this picture represent symbolically what she sees about her situation?

Why is she compared to a dreaming child?
She was Young
Does her age surprise you? What does her face tell you about her life?

What sort of emotional state is she in? Again, why is the negative statement here?

Coming to her
In your first reading, what do you guess that "something" might be? Does that interpretation change with a second reading? Why is this "message" arriving externally?

"Now" indicates a change--of what kind?

Bet it back
Here she is both passive and active. Where is "it" truly coming from? Why is her will ineffective to stop it? Could this BE her will?

What does this description of her hands suggest

What do "abandon" and "escape" suggest. Is there other imagery of imprisonment in the story?

Free, free, free
What is happening to her? Why does she repeat "free?

Pulses beat fast
Note how the sensuality of what she sees has been tranferred to her body. Is this possibly sexual ecstasy? Why might she react this way?

Monstrous Joy
Who would consider this joy "monstrous"? Do you, as a reader? What makes her perception "clear and exalted?" To whom? Do you agree or do you judge her negatively at this point?

The face
There seems to be no question whether her husband loved her, is there? What clues are there of HOW he loved her?

There would be…
What cherished domestic and 19th century myth does Chopin challenge here?

No powerful will …
Here Chopin--or is it Mrs. Mallard?-- is making a very general statement about relationships, particularly between men and women. How does it apply to this case? What might make it a "crime"? Do you agree?

Free Body and soul
Again, body and soul are connected. How does this anticipate the end?

Will make yourself ill
What does Josephine's plea say about the expectations of those around Louise (now given a name)?

elixir (from Middle...
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