ENG 125: Introduction to Literature
Prof. Stephanie Allen
October 29, 2012
“The Story of an Hour”
I chose to discuss the short story by Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”. I will identify the theme and the literary elements that helped me with my analysis. I would consider the story “The Story of an Hour” to be the story of love and boosting the ego. There are many literary elements that aid my analysis, and helped supported my reading of the theme in this story. I will discuss how symbolism, metaphors, and irony helped me reach my theme. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is about a woman who is clearly overjoyed that her husband has died.
“‘The Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin focuses on a late nineteenth century American woman's dramatic hour of awakening into selfhood, which enables her to live the last moments of her life with an acute consciousness of life's immeasurable beauty”(Jamil, 2009). The opening sentence for the story is, “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.” (Clugston, 2010). I believe that the reason why the author states this at the very beginning is to prepare the readers for all other events that will come, as well as to give us a description of her character. Her weak heart also has an impact on the way others have to treat and adapt to her. She has to be treated with serious care so that her heart won’t go into shock and cause her any complications. When Mrs. Mallard found out her husband died, she felt a sense of joy but did not let it be seen towards others. As Mrs. Mallard anticipates her freedom, she knows that she will still mourn the passing of her husband. She even imagines what he will look like lying in his coffin. Chopin stated that, “She will weep when she sees the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked saved with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead.” She did admit to loving him, just not all the time. She said that he was loyal and affectionate, but he suffocated her in his attempts to motion her upon that golden pedestal he created. The theme in this story has much to do with love, forbidden love that is as well to boosting ones ego. A metaphor is a common term in this story. The story says "except when...to sob in its dreams" (Clugston, 2010). This lets us know about the grief Mrs. Mallard was suffering. The author also made a comparison to a child crying itself to sleep as to how Mrs. Mallard was handling her grief. This phrase is metaphorical because Mrs. Mallard was acting the way a child would act. Mrs. Mallard excluded herself from everyone, by sitting in a room all alone, where as a child would do the same thing if they were punished. Mrs. Mallard realized the fact that her husband dead is not easy to cope with, where a child would do the same thing if you were to take a toy from them. The room to where she went to after hearing the news is a reflection of the newfound freedoms that accompany the loss of her husband. The window she looked through is an obvious metaphor and symbol for the new beginning and fresh opportunities that await her in the days and years to come. Chopin said "But now there...intelligent thought" (Clugston, 2010). In this passage, when it described her gazing at a blue sky, it also said that there was more to Mrs. Mallard's gaze than just a reflection; I think it could also be how the color blue represents her feelings towards her husband. Symbolism is also a reoccurring element in the story. The scent of rain is similar to the clean nature associated with the spring rains that bring new life to a hidden landscape. Another piece of symbolism in the short story would be the clouds. “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”(Clugston, 2010). To me the patches of clouds represent the different aspects of the relationship Mrs. Mallard shared with her husband. The clouds were the rough spots and times where she felt suffocated by his affection and maybe his protection. The blue skies that stick out through the clouds denote the clearing of cruelty and opportunities for her renewal. Irony is also presented in this story. My view of irony in this story was the ending. The ending was very ironic because of Mrs. Mallard’s outcome. The whole story was an intensifying act until you got to her death at the end. Chopin made it seem like there was so much in store for Mrs. Mallard to live for, but when it all fell down to the end and Mrs. Mallard saw her husband alive, there wasn’t anything worth living for to her. Jamil (2009) stated, that in one hour Louise sees and creates a new identity with her newly awakened faculty of emotions (para. 10). In conclusion, I think that Chopin sent a detailed message by writing this story. The message of this story is we often take the ones that love us the most for granted. I also said that boosting the ego had something to do with the theme as well because Mrs. Mallard was so happy that her husband died that she had nothing but joy because she was free. But, right at the end when her husband returned she died from overjoy. Chopin used many of the literary terms we learned about but the ones that stuck out most to me were, symbolism, metaphors and irony and they all were used to help the reader view and explain the meaning of this bittersweet story.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into Literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books Jamil, S. S. (2009). Emotions in the story of an hour. The Explicator, 67(3), 215-220. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/216778527?accountid=32521