Chopin tackles complex issues involved in the interplay of female independence, love, and marriage through her brief but effective characterization of the supposedly widowed Louise Mallard in her last hour of life. After discovering that her husband has died in a train accident, Mrs. Mallard faces conflicting emotions of grief at her husband's death and exultation at the prospects for freedom in the remainder of her life. The latter emotion eventually takes precedence in her thoughts. As with many successful short stories, however, the story does not end peacefully at this point but instead creates a climactic twist. The reversal--the revelation that her husband did not die after all-- shatters Louise's vision of her new life and ironically creates a tragic ending out of what initially appeared to be a fortuitous turn of events. As a result, it is Mr. Mallard who is free of Mrs. Mallard, although we do not learn whether the same interplay of conflicting emotions occurs for him.
Chopin presents Mrs. Mallard as a sympathetic character with strength and insight. As Louise understands the world, to lose her strongest familial tie is not a great loss so much as an opportunity to move beyond the "blind persistence" of the bondage of personal relationships. In particular, American wives in the late nineteenth century were legally bound to their husbands' power and status, but because widows did not bear the responsibility of finding or following a husband, they gained more legal recognition and often had more control over their lives. Although Chopin does not specifically cite the contemporary second-class situation of women in the text, Mrs. Mallard's exclamations of "Free! Body and soul free!" are highly suggestive of the historical context.
Beyond the question of female independence, Louise seems to suggest that although Brently Mallard has always treated their relationship with the best of intentions, any human connection with such an effect of permanence and intensity, despite its advantages, must also be a limiting factor in some respects. Even Louise's physical description seems to hint at her personality, as Chopin associates her youthful countenance with her potential for the future while mentioning lines that "bespoke repression and even a certain strength." Although neither her sister nor Brently's friend Richards would be likely to understand her point of view, Louise Mallard embraces solitude as the purest prerequisite for free choice.
Mrs. Mallard's characterization is complicated by the fleeting nature of her grief over her husband, as it might indicate excessive egotism or shameless self-absorption. Nevertheless, Chopin does much to divert us from interpreting the story in this manner, and indeed Mrs. Mallard's conversion to temporary euphoria may simply suggest that the human need for independence can exceed even love and marriage. Notably, Louise Mallard reaches her conclusions with the suggestive aid of the environment, the imagery of which symbolically associates Louise's private awakening with the beginning of life in the spring season. Ironically, in one sense, she does not choose her new understanding but instead receives it from her surroundings, "creeping out of the sky." The word "mallard" is a word for a kind of duck, and it may well be that wild birds in the story symbolize freedom.
To unify the story under a central theme, Chopin both begins and ends with a statement about Louise Mallard's heart trouble, which turns out to have both a physical and a mental component. In the first paragraph of "The Story of an Hour," Chopin uses the term "heart trouble" primarily in a medical sense, but over the course of the story, Mrs. Mallard's presumed frailty seems to be largely a result of psychological repression rather than truly physiological factors. The story concludes by attributing Mrs. Mallard's death to heart disease, where heart disease is "the joy that kills." This last phrase is purposefully ironic, as Louise must have felt both joy and extreme disappointment at Brently's return, regaining her husband and all of the loss of freedom her marriage entails. The line establishes that Louise's heart condition is more of a metaphor for her emotional state than a medical reality.
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Keywords elements, thinks, freedoms, irony, short story
"The Story of an Hour", written by Kate Chopin in the late 18th Century, is a dramatic example of a woman who suddenly discovers her freedom from the repression of her marriage. The author vividly portrays the low position of a wife in a suppressive marriage of that time. Although this story is short, only covering the last hour of the woman's life, the impact on the reader is to make her realize how few rights women had in the past and to appreciate the freedom women have today. The author conveys this effect by several literary techniques. She uses images of the freedom present in nature to convey the missing freedom in Mrs. Mallard's life. She uses techniques of surprise. Finally she uses irony to support many twists and turns in the story. She uses these elements to present a short story with a big impact which makes the reader thinks about how she shouldn't take those freedoms for granted.
The protagonist, Mrs. Mallard receives a piece of news from her sister and sister's husband that Mr. Mallard is killed in a railroad accident. She reacts to this message as most wives do at that period of time which is to go into immediate shock. Her mind is blank at that moment when she hears the message of her husband's death. A storm of grief overcomes her and she goes to her room alone. As she starts to think about her lost marriage "she sees in the open square before her house the tops of trees that are all aquiver with new spring life." She feels everything changes. Everything is lovelier than before she receives the death message. The author's use of imagery in the natural world helps to explain to Mrs. Mallard that her repressive marriage has not.
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin represents a negative view of marriage by presenting the reader with a woman who is clearly overjoyed that her husband has died. This is expressed through the language in “The Story of an Hour” (click for full plot summary) by Kate Chopin used to describe Louise’s emotions as she oscillates between numbness and extreme joy at her newfound freedom. The narrator of “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin relates what she observes in simple prose, but when her emotions are described, the words are vibrant and powerful. This suggests that Louis has a deep inner-life that is not connected to the outside world of her husband or friends and the fact that she cloisters herself in her room to discover her feelings is important. The world outside of her own bedroom is only minimally described, but the world inside of her mind is lively and well described by the narrator. The window outside of her room is alive and vibrant like her mind, while everything about her physically is cloistered.
While the mere use of certain words is indicative of this inner-world of detail and life, there are also several instances of ironic or playful uses of certain phrases or images to convey Louise’s happiness in “The Story of an Hour” and the ultimate message that marriage is constraining. In many ways, the fact that she dies at the end of simple “heart disease” (which the doctors think cam about as a result of her joy of seeing her husband) is symbolic of the “disease” of marriage. Much like an affliction, she cannot feel free unless the agent, her husband, is no longer present. The fact that it affects her heart as opposed to any other portion of her body shows that her misery from this symbolic disease stems from something inside of her, not anything external. For instance, in one of the important quotes from “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, it is clear that her husband loved her when his face is described as “the face that had never looked save with love upon her.” Her own feelings of love in return are also minimally described and it is clear that she does not share his sentiments. The narrator relates in one of the quotes from “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, “And yet she loved him—sometimes. Often she did not.” This kind if simple and direct language is used only to describe the things Louise is not emotional about, thus the bare language would indicate—just as much as the actual words themselves do—that she did not have any strong feelings for her husband. As the thesis statement for this essay on “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin makes clear, the language constructs the reader’s understanding of her character.
When Louise’s emotions are described regarding something she is thrilled about, the language becomes lively and rich with color and vibrant images. This stands in sharp contrast to the sections in which she seems indifferent or emotionally unattached. For instance, in the above citation which begins with the very simple statement in one of the quotes from “Story of an Hour”, “And yet she loved him—sometimes. Often she did not” which demonstrates emotional passivity, but as the short paragraph continues and her true emotions come to the forefront, the language comes alive along with her character. The clipped line above is followed by, “What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!” It is important to notice not only the language comes to life with the use of words like “mystery,” “possession,” and “impulse” but the very phrasing changing. The initial emotions portrayed in these quotes from “The Story of an Hour” (click for full plot summary) by Kate Chopin in which she was passive about are short tidy sentences, but as soon as she begins to feel an emotion, the sentences expand and the whole of one massive thought about “her being” becomes one very long sentence to stand in contrast to the previous one.
This happens again a few paragraphs before this instance when she is speaking in one of the quotes about the strain and crippling “disease” of marriage. When her emotions become overwhelming, so do the sentences and language. “There would be no one to live for in those coming years; she would live for herself” begins the paragraph. There are no lively words, just a matter of fact, unemotional statement without the slightest hint of sadness. In fact, almost as though she suddenly realizes again that she doesn’t need to be sad—that marriage is an unhappy institution for her, she comes to life again through language and sentence structure as seen in a meaningful passage from “Story of an Hour” such as, “There will be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature.” Phrases such as “powerful will” and “blind persistence” are much more descriptive and full of energy than any she uses to describe the fact that she had no one to live for. Also, this seems to escape in one breath, as one long rant, only to lead back into the clipped sentence of “And yet she loved him—sometimes” which makes the reader keenly aware of the contrasts in numbness and almost manic emotion.
In terms of language and her emotions, it is interesting that Louise’s feelings are described as a “monstrous joy” since this matches her feelings and well-described strong emotions. There go from calm and passive to wild and uninhibited and the only way the reader can discern what means the most to her is by these passages describing this joy that is monstrous not only because it overwhelms her, but because she knows that she shouldn’t feel the way she does about her husband’s death—that the world of the dull reality would consider her reaction “monstrous” in itself. Again, there is a disconnect between the outer world and her introverted self. While her emotions are described as monstrous, she is described from the outside quite differently since she is “young with a fair, calm face” and has “two white slender hands.” Both of these cues would lead the reader to believe that she is a perfect gentlewoman, composed and serene, while inside her thoughts move with “sudden, wild abandonment.”
Through contrasting language and sentence structures to reveal the emotions of Louise, the reader is able to enter her wild mind just as easily if her every thought was described in an itemized list. The reader is forced to ignore the outside world, mostly because its description offers nothing remarkable, and focus on her inner-life, which depicts a sad portrait of marriage, indeed.
Àíàëèç "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin
The story of an hour is a dramatic destiny of Mrs. Mallard. The title of the story speaks for itself. The story begins with introduction of main characters to the reader and with description of key events. Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble and her sister Josephine, her husband's friend Richard did their best to break to Mrs. Mallard as gently as possible the news of her husband's death. The first passage appears to be exposition, 'cause it contains a short presentation of time, place and characters of the story. Besides, from the very beginning the absence of Mrs. Mallard's name draws our attention. Further, the author describes Mrs. Mallard's state, how she accepted the news. He writes: "She didn't hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance". So this makes us think that she didn't accept her husband's death as a fact, but realized its significance for her, perhaps she imagined her further life without her husband, she started thinking of the way her life would change. "There stood, facing the open window..." There's a slight hint in this sentence, that those changes will be closely connected with the improvement of her life and "the open window" the description of awakened nature in spring suggest it. Here we should admit the beauty of the language the author uses. "The delicious breath of rain... There were patches of blue sky..." The epithet and metaphor are employed for the expressiveness while describing nature. The decisive moment comes when ... whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: "Free, free, free!" It's the climax of the story. The metaphor "escape" reveals Mrs. Mallard's state. She was unconscious of her dream to be free. Every inch of her body wished that freedom and now she realized it. She was even glad that her husband died. But the oxymoron "a monstrous joy" suggests that her reaction was abnormal. She was unhappy in her family life. Her husband "never looked save with love upon her. And she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely...she would live for herself..." The antithesis in the sentence "And yet she had loved him - sometimes. Often she had not." makes us arrive at a definite conclusion that all her love towards her husband was just an illusion. But still in spite of all this she shouldn't react in this way, it wasn't correct. She was too joyful. The metaphor "she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window", the climax "spring days and summer days and all sorts of days"; the epithet "feverish triumph in her eyes" are employed to emphasize her state and unnatural behaviour. The denouement isn't less unexpected than Mrs. Mallard's reaction. The crucial moment came when Mr. Mallard, which was said to be dead, safe and sound opened the front door. Mrs. Mallard was shocked and died of heart disease. The doctors said that it was joy that killed her. But it wasn't joy, it was despair. All her dreams about free life were broken by her husband and she couldn't live with him any more. She hoped that she had got rid of him, that the destiny made her a present and all her dull life was very far. And when her husband ruined all this she couldn't forgive him. For just an hour she was born again, lived in the world of her dreams and died. She wanted freedom and reached it, but was dead.
A number of messages are conveyed in this story. A human being is born to be free, but he couldn't just rely on destiny and wait for freedom, he must fight for it and then he'll deserve that freedom.
It's a sin to be glad for somebody's death, and one will be punished for it. It is quite difficult to forgive a man, but one should do his best to forgive and give a man another chance.