Tone of Chopin's The Story of an Hour
Kate Chopin's The Story of the Hour tells the story of one woman's reaction to her husband's supposed death. Her friends treat her as if she is very fragile and will fall apart at the news of her husband's death. However, in private, she is joyful at the opportunity to live her life without him. Her husband though, is not really dead. This realization causes her death. The tone of this story is bittersweet, yet uplifting. Chopin demonstrates this through her use of irony in description, Louise's reaction to her husband's death, and the final line of the story.
The description that Chopin uses contrasts sharply with the supposed mood of the story. Death is usually marked by dark, bleak images. However these are not the images that Chopin uses. Instead she describes trees "aquiver with the new spring life" and the "delicious breath of rain." Images like these are not usually associated with death. They are usually symbols of hope and rebirth. This gives the story a happier attitude that it would normal be, as the readers immediately get the feeling that there is more to the story than just the sadness of death.
Louise's reaction is also not concurrent with the situation at hand. Her initial reaction is to be hysterical. This is what one would normally expect. However, when she is all alone she reveals her true feelings. She's excited at the fact that she will finally be free from her husband and happy to not have to always try to please him. She over and over again repeats "free!" Her sister and her husband's friend believe that she will be devastated at the thought of her husband's death, but her cries are not of despair, but of joy. This is quite ironic since they are worried about her reaction with her heart condition. The readers know her happiness at her husband's death, but the other characters do not. This shows that when she sees her husband again, it is bittersweet. He is alive, but she wishes that he was not....
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