“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