Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is a story of one hour in the life of a woman living in the nineteenth-century American society. It is written in the third person limited point of view and, therefore, we only know the thoughts and feelings of a single character—Louise Mallard. The story begins when the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard, learns of her husband’s death. The narrator then takes us through a series of events, starting from Louise celebrating the death of Mr. Mallard, through her dreaming about a new life and, finally, to her death and downfall at the sight of her husband being alive at the end of the story. The message that the author tries to convey is that in the late 1800s, women felt oppressed in marriages, even in the kindest ones. Kate Chopin achieves meaning in her short story through the use of three types of irony: dramatic, verbal, and situational.
The first type of irony employed by Kate Chopin in her short story entitled “The Story of an Hour” is dramatic irony. Dramatic irony exists when a character of a work has a limited understanding of his or her situation at a particular moment of the unfolding action, and the audience, at the same instance, is aware of the characters actual situation. In “The Story of an Hour,” the reader first experiences dramatic irony when Mrs. Mallard’s family and friends try to “break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (Chopin 246). They are both concerned that the news will make her ill. Nevertheless, the truth is different. In her criticism of “The Story of an Hour,” Jennifer Hicks, a director of the Academic Support and Writing Assessment program at Massachusetts Bay Community College, states: “Certainly, we are told of the joy she feels with the freedom she finds in her husband’s death.” As the story unfolds, we learn of the actual feelings of Mrs. Mallard, while other characters are not aware of them—the fact that Mr. Mallard’s death was actually a relief to his
Cited: Hicks, Jennifer. “An Overview of 'The Story of an Hour '.” Short Stories for Students. Detroit: Gale, 2002 Jamil, S. Selina. "Emotions in The Story of an Hour." The Explicator 67.3 (2009): 215+. Academic OneFile Rosenblum, Joseph. "Kate Chopin." Magill’s Literary Annual 1991. Ed. Frank N. Magill. 2 vols. Salem Press, 1991 "The Story of an Hour." Kate Chopin. Kate Chopin International Society. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.