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The short story “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin revolves around what happens in someones head when they are informed that their loved one has passed away. The story was first published in 1894 by Vogue magazine. In the story, Louise Mallard, a married woman, suffers from a heart trouble. Her closest family members are thus compelled to send subliminal messages to inform her of her husbands death. However, it appears that her husband is not dead and the news ironically becomes a precursor to her death. The paper will focus on a comprehensive and succinct summary of the short story, as well as the stylistic devices used by the author.
The predominant thematic concern throughout the story is that marriage is an oppressive institution. Even though the author does not pinpoint the hostility of Mr Mallard, she depicts the societal deficiencies that allow a system of unfairness. In fact, the oppressive nature of Mrs Mallards marriage makes her happy as she contemplates living a life without her husband. This gives an impression that she is oblivious to the beauty of life throughout her marriage. The author also touches on Mrs Mallards heart ailment, which develops due to the fact that her will is inferior, while her husbands one is superior. In fact, Mrs Mallard acknowledges that her husbands powerful will will no longer be there to suppress her will now that he is dead. The author uses this to show that most women are trapped in their marriages, thus loosing identity and freedom.
Kate Chopin wrote the story using an omniscient point of view, and this is efficient in conveying information. Her style of writing seems gripping and makes a reader anxious about how the important events transpire. In fact, the story is not predictable, and this makes it more interesting. A reader can note the authors proficiency in making a story unpredictable when Chopin makes it clear that Brently is not involved in the railroad accident towards the end of the story. Chopin also ensures that the story develops the subject matter perfectly. It also has a series of short and coherent paragraphs, which makes it easy for a reader to follow the story and understand it. It also seems interesting that the author reveals Mrs Mallards real name (Louise) after her husbands death. This is used to imply that a woman loses her identity once she becomes married.
The story has some elements of symbolism because Mrs Mallard is used as a symbol of an ailing heart. She represents women who are always unhappy and resentful throughout their marriage and motherhood. The happiness of such women is constrained by the marriage restrictions imposed by their husbands, and Mrs Mallard is not an exception (Chopin, 2014). Additionally, the author makes it clear that she has heart troubles, which can be attributed to her marriage. The other aspect of symbolism is the chair Louise sits on after she discovers that her husband is dead. The chair symbolizes the end of her oppressive marriage. According to Chopin, the chair is comfortable, which implies that Mrs Mallard has room to move around in her life (Chopin & Correll, 2011).
The title “The Story of an Hour” is also used to refer to all the dramatic events that take place within such a short period of time. This encompasses the belief that Mr Mallard is dead, the freedom that Mrs Mallard anticipates and the realization that her husband is alive. The story is thus limited to events that can transpire within an hour. However, the dynamics of the story make the hour slow down due to the tragic news of the death of Brently and Mrs Mallards realization of what it means to her.
The appearance of Louises husband makes her heart unconditionally unstable. In fact, she dies momentarily, which is the climax of the plot. When the doctors come, they say that she died of a joy that kills (Chopin, 2014). The scenario is ironic because a reader expects her to act in a different manner. Furthermore, at the end, it appears that Louise is the one who passes away, and not Brently Mallard. The author uses her death to illustrate situational irony. The story also exhibits another case of situational and dramatic irony. In this regard, when Mrs Mallard locks herself in a room, Josephine is worried that her condition might deteriorate (Chopin & Correll, 2011).
However, it appears that Mrs Mallard is in her room contemplating how wonderful life will be now that her husband is dead. Similarly, when the doctors say she dies of joy, it shows dramatic irony because she was not joyous or exuberant at that moment. In fact Mrs Mallard dies of horror because the freedom and happiness she was anticipating after her husbands death would no longer be within her reach. From a general perspective, the ending is a classic trick because it ends with the events that the characters are trying to avoid from the onset.
The story represents a negative view on marriage by presenting a reader with a woman who is overjoyed due to her husbands death. This sends the ultimate message that marriage is constraining. The author uses different literary devices, such as irony and symbolism, to make the story interesting and captivating. Additionally, the story takes different twists and turns that make its ending ironic and unobvious. The language used has also been effective in conveying the feelings and emotions of the characters.