The Story Of An Hour
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
Death can have different meanings to a person. Sometimes people get joy from it and most of the times they do not. Most widows would respond in a sorrowful way towards their husband’s death, but Louise responded in a untroubled mannered. The main character gets overjoyed from her husband’s death because she believed she gained the freedom that she had lost with her husband. The protagonist believes she has no freedom; she is enslaved by her husband; the anecdote opens with Louise believing she is a free woman and believing she has a new start to her new life. In the Story of an Hour, it demonstrates a patriarchal society where male dominance is so something ordinary, where women are looked upon as weak and frail without a male authority.
In “The Story of an Hour,” we discover that Mrs. Mallard has problems with her heart, so when her husband dies, her family had to be extra careful into breaking the news of her husband’s death; that he has been killed in a railroad accident. She (Louise) at first feels numb and in total shock at first, and wants to be completely alone in order to process her loss. Once Louise is alone, she notices something she have not seen in a long time, she notices the alluring, attractive beauty nature outside her window, after that moment to herself she begins to feel optimistic about life. She begins to think about all the good time to herself she will now have, now that her husband is dead. Louise whispers to herself, “Free! Body and soul free!” as she knows she will regret it all once she sees her husband’s dead body at the funeral; although there is no evidence in the text that her husband was rude or abusive towards her. Louise seems unsure of what she feels towards her husband, but it was not love, though at the end of the story, she seems to be looking forwards to her future as a widow, but as she leaves her room, Brently Mallard opens the door and walks inside her home. She breaks down the news to her and tells her that there was a mistake, and that he husband was not on the train. Louise then dies from the disturbance, and unexpectedly, it is assumed that she died of “the joy that kills” the people that were there assumed she was so delighted to see her husband alive that she died of the shock.
But in reality, she died from the shock to learn that the future that she mused was just a helpless dream, “all sort of days that would be her own,” will now be difficult. A critical feminist perspective of this short story would center on the expectations placed upon women by the establishment of marriage, this is demonstrated in the story “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would 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. A kind intention or a cruel intention made… moment of illumination”. This is a great example of the expectations of a late 19th century marriage. That the husband had to be the one “to Impose his will” towards its wife. When Louise believes that “A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no lessa crime,” we the readers see that the actual problem is not with the people but with her marriage. Even though her husband was mean nor a bad husband, he was kind to her and had all the right intentions, he the husband still had all the power in the relationship because man have more power and are controlled of everything in the women’s life.
Therefore, louise was not a free woman, she felt worthless. She would always do as he said; she must “live for” his husband rather than for herself. A feminist perspective shows how marriages do not allow women to feel any perception of freedom. There is inequality between both genders to the cutting edge is one of the main desires of a feminist literary disapproval. A main critical feminist viewpoint of this short story focuses on women abuse back in the 19th century, and especially in marriages back then. During that period of time, women were “owned by their husbands or male figure” and had little to no freedom over their live. Chopin tells us the tragedy of this situation, through a devoted observation of the main character as well as the expressive details of the short story. One sign of the main character’s abuse is in the beginning sentence where she is named “Mrs. Mallard”. Her husband is given a first name, but the main character is just not revealed until much later in the story; she is only known as the wife of Brently Mallard. Then much later as she is handling the “death” of her husband, Louise describes her marriage life if it was a crime. “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.” Louise admits to herself that her husband was not a bad man nor a bad husband, but just the fact that she had a controlling husband that had her all controlled with no self-freedom, she felt abused. She feels deprived from her life; lifeless.
The feminist perspective that is shown in The Story of an Hour, is that the sensation of freedom that Louise did not have but experience after she was told that her husband was killed in a train accident, For 60 minutes Louise praised the wonder of being unchained from a commanding husband. The author’s purpose is to make women seem powerful after their husband’s deaths. Kate Chopin the author of the anecdote is going against society norms after losing their significant other. Characters in the anecdote demonstrate how people viewed Louise after her husband’s death. It reveals how society views widows as helpless and weak individuals; without a male figure dominance in their lives; although that is not how Louise felt.
Comparison between “The Necklace” and “The Story of an Hour” stories
The setting for Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” and Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” take place during the 1800s when men played the dominant role over women. In both stories the protagonists are each yearning for a better life and each struggle to find it in a slightly different way.
Kate Chopin and Guy de Maupassant both use imagery and symbolism at its best. In describing Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to her husband’s death, “The tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life…The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.” Immediately the symbol of a sparrow twittering gives you the impression of rebirth. The trees were all aquiver with new spring life symbolizes a new beginning. A fresh start.
In “The Necklace” Guy de Maupassant uses the following imagery and symbol, “She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her.” Again, here you get the impression of a drab unhappy home with all the material things tattered and worn as a symbol of possessions that are old, aging and dreary. Obviously, these are not the things that would make her happy and provide the feeling of being young and vibrant. Although the Loisel’s are not in the lowest economic class Madam Loisel dreams of being rich. Guy de Maupassant also uses lists. This is to highlight the fact that she feels like she can name so many things wrong with her life and so many things she wants.
Both stories use irony to make a point. In “The Necklace” Madame Loisel is invited to a prestigious ball and borrows a necklace which she thought was very expensive and lost it. Madame Loisel and her husband knew that they had to replace the necklace and saved for 10 years. Madam Loisel bumps into Madame Forrestier and is told that the necklace which she thought was diamonds were fake. In “The Story of an Hour” when Mrs. Mallard’s husband appears at the doorstep very much alive and Mrs. Mallard sees him, she is the one who collapses and dies from the shock of his being alive “She had died of heart-disease of joy that kills”. Both writers send the message that all the suffering could have been avoided had they been satisfied with what they already had instead of chasing rainbows.
The Analysis Of The Short Story “The Story Of An Hour” By Kate Chopin
The Depressed to Ecstatic State of Being of Mrs. Mallard
In the short story, “The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, the author provides two examples of the literary technique of irony to enrich and support the theme, “nothing is as it seems.” Kate Chopin uses both situational and verbal irony in different instances in the story. She uses situational irony to reveal the implausible happiness that Mrs. Mallard experiences, after seeing her husband alive, after her husband’s supposedly subsequent death. The author uses verbal irony to explicate Mrs. Mallard’s change in her state of being from being depressed and sad to being joyous and ecstatic. The first instance of verbal irony is used to explain the shift of mood of Mrs. Mallard. When she yells, “Free, Free, Free”! Mrs. Mallard, “carrie herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory”.
In the story, a friend informs Mrs. Mallard regarding the death of her husband in a tragic accident. As a result, Mrs. Mallard feels depressed and saddened by the report and heads to her room to isolate herself and to grief. Her family including Josephing are worried for her, especially her health due to her heart troubles. It is presumed by the family, including Josephine that there is an interturomoil in Mrs. Mallard because of the loss of her husband. However, in the room, there is self-reflection by Mrs. Mallard which is done by looking at nature, and trying to look for a message in the blue sky. She realizes that she and her husband had a well marriage, that was supported by love between both couples.
Nevertheless, the widow realizes that her husband was focused on his own lust and ambition and truly had no compassion towards Mrs. Mallard. Also, Mrs. Mallard had no say in the marriage and was constantly enforced by her husband to do what was best for her wife rather than allowing her to figure out things for herself. Suddenly, she experiences jubilation and a monstrous joy subsequently because she now realizes that she has new sense of freedom and can pursue a life of independence. Mrs. Mallard realizes that her husband’s passing allows her to discover a world without the oppressive backlash of her husband, and his passing displays the different attitude and mindset she has toward life, as well as to live a life that is fueled by determination to live a life that she has always wanted. This example exhibits verbal irony because the reader assumes that Mrs. Mallard would experience depression from the tragic news of her husband, but in reality she sees the bigger outcome of her husband’s death and feels rejoiced.The second and final example of dramatic irony in the story displays the shock and the ensuing death of Mrs. Mallard as a result of her presumed death husband, alive. Mrs. Mallard, “did of heart disease-of joy that kills”.
The family and the doctor believe that the cause of death for Mrs. Mallard was the overwhelming joy that was associated with seeing her husband again. However, the read can imply, based on the information gathered by the self reciton of the protagonist, that she died of shock that her husband was still alive, and that she would have to live a live with an oppressive husband, and her freedoms and independence would disappear. Mr. Mallard walks through the doors, acting as if nothing had happened, even though Louis believes that he is dead, because her friend receives a second telegram confirming this news. Mrs. Mallard did not expect that the man she loathed would be back, and this reality check really triggered upset and disgust, and her resulting death.
Kate Chopin, in the short story, “The Story of an Hour”, uses irony including dramatic and verbal irony, which is found throughout the story to explain the theme, “nothing is as it seems”, and the changes that are experienced by Mrs. Mallard such as her state of being, attitude, and personality. Mrs. Mallard changing from being depressed to ecstatic in spite of the devastating news of her husband is ironic, as well as her shocked reaction as well as her death by seeing her husband, Mr. Mallard. The author use of irony allows the reader to understand a more broader meaning of the story and the message, including the theme that is present, throughout the story.
Kate Chopin’s Description of the Topic of Liberty in Women and Marriage as Depicted in Her Narratives, The Storm and the Story of an Hour
Susan B Anthony once said “Independence is Happiness,” but independence has not always been easily accessible to all genders. Chopin’s stories with strong female roles, “The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour”, express themes of female independence and marriage; they are used to convey that despite that strengths of relationships are assumed by society, they are still diminished by personal desires. Many women during this time deemed feelings of female liberation as absurd because it was counter-cultural to the stay at home wife, however, Chopin’s characters showed an opposition from the norm because they had confused emotions from uncertainty about how to react to their desires, a yearning for freedom to make personal decisions from an oppressive male dominant society, and because of physical and emotional confinement from their significant other, which followed the socially accepted behavior of women during this era.
Chopin supports the female stereotype that women are confusing when it comes to their emotions and desires, by illustrating two women that defy society by reacting truthfully to themselves, when given the opportunity. She expresses this through her lead roles, Calixta, and Mrs. Mallard, from “The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour”. “The Storm” depicts a wife, Calixta, who is left at home during a storm while her husband and son are out purchasing goods. At first, Calixta starts to get worried about her family in the storm, until her emotions are flipped by an unexpected guest arrival. Chopin brings temptation in the marriage of Calixta by placing her ex, Alcée, on her doorstep. Calixta did not appear to be disappointed with her marriage, but when given the option to stay loyal, she chose the devil on her opposite shoulder. “They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms” (“The Storm”, 436). Furthermore, the main character feels a sense of excitement and independence when given the opportunity to bounce onto Alcée. This sense of independence and freedom is taken over and Calixta is no longer thinking of her marriage with her husband. Chopin shows the reader that human relationships are hard to keep strong, because of the lack of trust and faithfulness. In addition to Calixta betraying her spouse, Alcée is also duplicitous to his significant other. As shared in Alcée’s letter to his wife, “He told her not to hurry back” (“The Storm”, 437). When observing social morality, Chopin reflects how when it comes to doing the right thing, selfishness, such as preferring personal independence, is more important than one’s own marriage. Neither Calixta nor Alcée told their spouses the truth, keeping their affair under the covers. However, when it comes to “The Story of an Hour”, the lead female role senses a different kind of emotional confusion. Mrs. Mallard had just recently found out about the death of her husband and does not seem to know if she is devastated or relieved. Chopin begins to illustrate how important Mrs. Mallard’s marriage was, such as, when she hears of her husband’s death she was like “a child who has cried itself to sleep [and] continues to sob in its dreams” (“The Story of an Hour”, 425). However, she later shifts to changing her character’s emotions to relief and a sense of independence, as she said “over and over under her breath: ‘free, free, free!’” (“The Story of an Hour”, 426). The author shows how social morality is not always taken into account. Moreover, many individuals would say that Mrs. Mallard’s newly found relief and happiness is immoral. Chopin displays that some human relationships are not always truthful and people may not know what they feel until they are alone.
The desire for freedom can consume an individual, and lead to difficult situations. Chopin’s characters in her two powerful stories experienced this desire in different yet similar situations. Calixta feels the need for freedom in making her decision to be with Alcée because she feels like she cannot escape the storm, which symbolizes her affair on her husband. Chopin uses this aspiration of independence to show how females felt burdened under their husband’s rule. Marriage is being questioned, should one stay true and be miserable, or be unrestricted and jubilant? When Calixta gets involved with Alcée, she feels a sense of bliss and authorization she had not felt prior to his arrival. “Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright… And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life’s mystery” (“The Storm”, 436). In addition, Chopin shares how it should be morally acceptable to be satisfied without a husband, but also shows that human affairs can be destroyed by the demand for something greater. In contrast, Mrs. Mallard, from “The Story of an Hour”, felt more of a freeing moment when discovering the death of her husband. When Mrs. Mallard’s feelings shift from sorrow to delight, Chopin is demonstrating her swing from detention to freedom. Mrs. Mallard comes to the realization that, “what could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse for her being” (“The Story of an Hour”, 426). Chopin is showing how although most women would fall in depression after the passing of their husbands, Mrs. Mallard found alleviation, which was contrary to social morality. Granted, Chopin expresses how relationships can yank you back from the sensation of exhilaration one merits. Calixta and Mrs. Mallard are similar because they both were at their happiest when their husband was out of the picture. This is an unfortunate occurrence for a female to feel, but Chopin is able to demonstrate the strong message to the readers that not all women stay quiet, some strive for independence.
Feelings of confinement can be reflected off more individuals than just those behind bars. Chopin’s characters feel different forms of internment, but both lead to similar desires. In “The Storm”, Calixta feels a sense of physical confinement through her husband when she is left alone during the storm while he and her son go out. “She stood at the window with a greatly disturbed look on her face” (“The Storm”, 435). If Calixta had not been left to think alone, Chopin shares that she wouldn’t have made the decision to have an affair with Alcée. “Alcée got up and joined her at the window” (“The Storm”, 435). With these two quotes, Chopin is showing how Alcée swooped in and took the opportunity that her husband had left behind. Although it was against the social norms for wives to go out of the house on errands, the marriage is restricting Calixta from feeling the freedom she thirsts. In addition, Chopin reveals that human relationships need to be equal to stay healthy and flourish. On the other hand, in “The Story of an Hour”, Mrs. Mallard experiences emotional confinement. When Mr. Mallard was still alive, he was subconsciously restricting Mrs. Mallard from loving herself. “There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself” (“The Story of an Hour”, 426). Chopin reveals that even though marriage is a strong bond between two individuals, independence and the freeing of emotions can provide a larger amount of contentment. Although social morality during this time shares that females should not feel restricted by their husbands, Chopin expresses that physical and emotional confinement from a man can place a woman in dark places.
Without a doubt, Chopin spoke powerfully for the women in the nineteen hundreds. Female independence and marriage are significant motifs for her pieces, “The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour”. Chopin’s prodigious characters’ confused emotions for their desires, their ache for freedom in their male conquered society, and physical and emotional limitation from their husbands, all played important roles in her message about social morality and how human relationships cripple.
Truth From Trauma In The Story Of An Hour By Kate Chopin And Good Country People By Flannery O’Connor
People like to think they know who they are, their beliefs, what they like, and how they feel about other people. This is even true for characters who share practically nothing in common such as Mrs. Mallard from Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and Hulga from O’Connor’s “Good Country People”. However, they are lying to themselves about those feelings and beliefs. They cannot understand these beliefs until they are tested through experience and it must be an experience that shakes them to their core. It must be an experience that traumatizes them. Moreover, they could not have understood their true self until their beliefs were tested through a traumatic experience.
Hulga and Mrs. Mallard both carry core beliefs about their personality. Hulga believes she is an intellectual and a nihilist, and she walks around the house all day berating and degrading everyone because they do not understand what she thought is child’s play. Even to the point where when she takes Pointer up to the hay barn she did so to enlighten him because, “True genius can get an idea across even to an inferior mind. ” She knows that she is smart and everyone around her is dumb and she had convinced herself she was a nihilist and an intellectual that could bridge the gap to this inferior person to show him the error of his ways. She believes this to her core, just as Mrs. Mallard believes that she loves her husband. She believes this to the point that when she heard of her husband’s death she “. . . wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment. . . ”
Mrs. Mallard immediately cries because she has convinced herself that she truly loves her husband and the proper thing to do was cry about his death. Hulga knew without a doubt she was smart, and Mrs. Mallard knew that she loved her husband. However, both Mrs. Mallard and Hulga’s beliefs were put through a test. Both Hulga and Mrs. Mallard had to experience traumatic events to realize they are lying to themselves. When Mrs. Mallard hears of her husband’s death it is horrible for her. As soon as she is able to stop weeping she “went away to her room alone. ” She is distraught and the thought of her husband being gone shakes her to her core. This event causes her to cry and isolate herself from people who want to help her, and it forces her to think about her true feelings.
As well, the same kind of event happens to Hulga in the hay barn. For most of her life she has been telling herself that she believes in nothing, but then she is horrified to find that she, an intellectual, has been tricked by someone she thought was just “good country people”. This shock that Pointer was not who he claims to be shakes her to her core. The most valuable and private thing in her life, her fake leg, is stolen. She never let anyone see or touch it and she “was as sensitive about the artificial leg as a peacock about his tail. ” So when she finds out the person she thought was a simply country person has tricked her, she is forced to acknowledge how she really thinks and feels.
The conclusion each woman realizes after their event is not what they would have expected. After their respective trauma both Mrs. Mallard and Hulga have to face their true beliefs. When Hulga faces the fact that Pointer is a crook she does not understand. She believes he is “a fine Christian!”, however he is not and she has been lied to. Not only by Pointer, but she has been lying to herself. If she was really a nihilist and believes in nothing as she states, then she would not believe that Christians must be good people and that good country people are unable to steal and lie. She is, as Pointer states, “ain’t so smart”, because she has been lying to herself for most of her life. She does believe that Christians and good country people honest, and therefore cannot be nihilist because she believes in something. She only came to this realization however after her leg was stolen. It took a her a traumatic moment in her life that for her to understand that she does believe certain things and is not who she thought she was. The same kind of realization happens for Mrs. Mallard. After sitting watching nature she realizes something about her husband, that “she had loved him – sometimes”. She now realizes that she felt oppressed by her husband and can now be free to do as she pleases. Again however, this is only possible after she went through the traumatic experience of his death that causes her core beliefs to be shaken. Without this experience she would have simply kept lying to herself that she was happy and fine. With his death she realizes that thing thing that she wants is that “she would live for herself. ” She now sees that she can only be happy without her husband and without the oppression that a husband inherently caused for that time period.
Both Hulga and Mrs. Mallard lie to themselves to the point they did not know they were doing it, and for both of them it took a very traumatic experience to show them that lie. It took Mrs. Mallard’s husbands death to show her that she really only wanted to be free and it took the theft of Hulga’s leg to show her that she was not actually the intellectual nihilist she thought she was. Both are traumatic events that test their beliefs, shake the core of what they believe, and show them what their true beliefs really are.
The Rising Culture of Feminism in Desiree’s Baby and The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
Feminist Qualities of the Late 1800’s
The two stories, Desiree’s Baby, and The Story of an Hour, by Kate Choplin, both depict the rising culture of feminism that took place during the time period that they were written. The two very opposing stories show different perspectives on the topic of feminism and freedom for women. They stories, too, show a harsh reality of how society occurred during this time period, and how women were treated.
In Desiree’s Baby, the wife is portrayed as a gentle, motherly, loving woman who basically lives for her husband. She is shown to have none of her own emotions, saying she “loved him desperately. When he frowned, she trembled, but loved him. When he smiled, she asked no greater blessing of God. (Choplin 2)” This story strongly represents the lack of say women had over their own lives, and the amount of control men had over them and their relationships. When Desiree is kicked out of her, her lack of argument shows just how little women got to say when decisions were made for them. This conflict also shows how men often in these times blamed women for faults instead of blaming themselves or even questioning if they were slightly at fault. I found this point especially important because it shows the amount of strength and courage it took for women in this time to fight for their rights and equality.
The Story of an Hour gives a very different perspective on feminism from the other story, which showed the woman being controlled and never recovering from it. While the woman in this story does not get to live freely as well, she at least begins to understand and appreciate her life for her own reasons, and not her husbands. In the beginning of this story, the wife is shown as women and consumed with grief because of her heart disease and the death of her husband. Though, her portrayal and the idea of feminism changes drastically when the women is alone in a room, and sees opportunity through an open window. She realizes she has lived her life under her husband’s limitations and controls, and only just now understands that she did not actually love him. She finally for the first time in her life does not dread living, she says, “Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own (Choplin 3)”, and sees it as a sign of rebirth, revitalization, and love for herself. This realization shows how strong and limitless women are when not held back because of their gender or sex. In the end, despite the fact that Louise died, I see this as her at her strongest. For once, her body and mind are able to do something that is for her happiness, not anyone else’s, and that in itself is such an important part of feminism.
Analysis of the Subject Matter Highlighted in Kate Chopin’s, The Story of An Hour vs. Ernest Hemingway’s, Hills like White Elephants
In turn-of-the-century literature, many short stories focus on themes that encompass human nature and society. Two of America’s most prominent turn-of-the-century writers, Kate Chopin and Ernest Hemingway are no exceptions to this rule. Both writers use awe-inspiring symbolism to explain the faults in human nature strategically to emphasize their writing and evoke emotions in the reader. In both “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, the authors make statements about the weaknesses of human nature in the way that the loss of life is handled.
In the short story “The Story of an Hour” written by Kate Chopin, the main character, Ms. Mallard, has received news that she is both ailing of heart disease and that her husband has died in a train accident. In order to prevent Ms. Mallard from becoming overexerted, the news of her husband’s death is leaked to her very gently, although there is not really a gentle way to break the news of your loved one’s death. After Ms. Mallard is informed of the death, she locks herself in a room and begins the process of mourning her lost lover. At this point in the story, Chopin gives an extremely gritty look into the process of how Ms. Mallard mourns the loss of her husband in the line where she writes, “Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.” Anyone that has lost someone they really cared about would relate to this line on an emotional level. Moreover, after Ms. Mallard has some time to digest the news, she has a new sense of freedom perpetuate throughout her body. Chopin relates this feeling as, “this thing that was approaching to possess her”. As Ms. Mallard begins to ponder her newfound freedom away from her husband, she realizes what her life will be like and how she will be unrestricted to do what she pleases. After some time, Ms. Mallard comes out of her room and sees that her husband has not died and is very much alive. Ms. Mallard then dies from a heart attack brought on by happiness. This is clearly a weakness in human nature in that Ms. Mallard was just grieving the loss other husband and is revitalized into a new woman, yet when her husband comes back and is not dead, she goes on to die of happiness that he is back, even when she was just moved on from his death.
Furthermore, in Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, the story is placed in Spain where a conversation is taking place between an American man and a girl Hemingway calls “Jig”. Initially, the two begin to banter about Jig thinking that the hills resemble white elephants, then they begin to talk more deeply about an operation. As the storyline goes on, it is not hard to realize that the American and Jig were discussing having an abortion, although it is not explicitly stated in the story. This is shown in the lines where Hemingway writes, “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,” and “I think it’s the best thing to do.” Throughout these lines, Jig is reluctant to respond and is obviously hesitant to proceed with the operation. “Hills Like White Elephants” shows the fault in loss in that in the final line Jig says, “There is nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.” Evidently not long ago Jig was extremely reluctant to give into the American’s pressuring into the abortion; however, now she is saying that she feels okay just to get the idea of the operation off of her and the American’s mind.
Unmistakably, both “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway address the issues of the loss of life in weaknesses of human nature and society. Through turn-of-the-century writing, there’s often thematic elements like the loss of life of Brently Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” and the potential loss of Jig’s unborn child in “Hills Like White Elephants”. These two stories in particular to a wonderful job of pointing out the weaknesses that humans present when the loss of someone who is precious is lost.
The Death of the Maiden Motif in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and “The Story of an Hour”
Author Joyce Carol Oates of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and author Kate Chopin of “The Story of an Hour” use the “death of the maiden” motif effectively to support a theme of unwarranted patriarchy throughout their writing. Both authors use this motif effectively by portraying men as death, who render their women victims as helpless and vulnerable. The connection both these authors make to “death of the maiden” motif does not become clear until the end of each story, however.
Oates in “Where…” begins her story off by characterizing Connie as a relatively independent and rebellious young teenager. Connie often sneaks off with her girlfriends and sometimes goes off to meet young boys. Her summer nights were filled with “[running] across, breathless with daring” (Oates 315). During one of this escapades, Connie comes across a rather peculiar man that tells Connie “Gonna get you, baby” (Oates 316). Connie quickly forgets the encounter. Oates most likely introduced Connie in this way to depict her as someone very innocent and free, and Connie’s disregard of the odd man is another example of her innocence.
In “The Story of an Hour”, the story begins off with Mrs. Mallard discovering that her husband has died. She immediately weeps, yet when alone immediately expresses her magnitude of joy at her newfound freedom. At this point in the story, the reader feels shocked at her reaction of her husband’s death, and then understanding when it is revealed why she is truly happy. She soaks in the feelings of her freedom and realizes that “a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely” (Chopin 654). Chopin introduced Mrs. Mallard in this way to make a special example of the magnitude her husband’s oppression held on Mrs. Mallard and the relief she felt when released from it.
Both Connie and Mrs. Mallard are free from the restraints of men in the beginning of these stories. Connie has not yet been oppressed from men and her youthfulness and rebellion exemplify this. Mrs. Mallard, after being fettered in her prison of marriage and oppressed from her husband, is suddenly free at his death. Both authors portray these women as especially free at the beginning of these stories to show that Connie and Mrs. Mallard are at their best when not chained down by men.
In “Where…” the story moves on to Connie in quite a predicament. A man, Arnold Friend, arrives unexpectedly to Connie’s home. At first Connie is unsure of the man. Arnold Friend is depicted at the beginning of their conversation as very friendly. His own name suggests friendship along with the writing on his car of a grinning face (Oates 318). However, as Connie and Arnold’s conversation goes on and she does not immediately go for a ride with him, he begins to fall apart. Arnold has transformed from a friendly and young man to someone who “stood there so stiffly relaxed, pretending to be relaxed . . . and had no intention of ever moving again” (Oates 320). Once Connie realizes his actions and behavior as odd she finally begins to distrust him. Arnold reacts to Connie’s distrust by suddenly demanding Connie “we ain’t leaving until you come with us” (Oates 321). Arnold continues to pester and threaten Connie to come with her. Oates reveals Arnold’s true self slowly in this way to present Connie as helpless among his lies and threats. Connie continues to repeat useless excuses in response to Arnold saying “I’m your lover… I’ll come inside you where it’s all secret” (Oates 322). Connie remains standing, only able to say “Get out of here!” (Oates 322). At the beginning of the story, the reader feels put off by Connie’s selfish personality. Yet when Connie begins talking to Arnold and does not know the danger he holds, the reader quickly becomes worried about Connie and her safety. Oates invokes this emotion in the reader to make her argument on the patriarchal society more effective.
In the middle of “The Story of an Hour”, Chopin goes into detail of Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to her husband’s death. She is happy at Brently’s death, yet Mrs. Mallard does recall that her husband “had never looked save with love upon her” and that she “would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death” (Chopin 654). Mrs. Mallard is clearly sad at her husband’s death, yet her feelings of her life now “[belonging] to her absolutely” was stronger (Chopin 654). Mrs. Mallard would no longer have to experience “[the] powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin 654). Chopin most likely mentioned that Brently was not cruel to his wife to show that kind men can also hold a cast iron prison over women. During this time in society, Mrs. Mallard could not ask for divorce and she could never leave her husband and their marriage except at either one of their deaths. Brently, however, could apply for divorce at any time. Chopin effectively uses Mrs. Mallard’s exaggerated happiness at her freedom to portray the outrageousness of which men inflict their powerful will over others and women unable to leave it.
Oates and Chopin portray patriarchy in their writings in very different ways that is most noticeable in the middle of their stories. Oates presents Connie as a young girl untouched from the overwhelming power of men, and then introduced to it in the form of Arnold Friend. Connie is unable to resist his threats, and easily gives in despite her many concerns. Connie is rendered helpless despite what seems every opportunity for her to get away. Chopin portrays the patriarchal society in the story of a woman that has already experienced it. Chopin describes the extent to which the power of men hold over women by describing Mrs. Mallard’s exaggerated reaction to becoming free from it. Both Oates and Chopin use perfect and striking examples of oppression on women. In regard to “the death of the maiden” motif, both stories are at the point where both women are defenseless to death, or men. Connie is helpless to Arnold, and Mrs. Mallard was helpless in her marriage before her husband’s death.
At the end of “Where…” Connie begins to realize the power men can hold over her. Arnold repeatedly threatens that he can always get to her and that “this place you are now- inside your daddy’s house- is nothing but a cardboard box I can knock down anytime” (Oates 325). Connie continues to try to find a way out of this situation, but she is unable to. She suddenly realizes that “her pounding heart… for the first time in her life that it was nothing that was hers… this body that wasn’t really hers either” (Oates 325). The reader feels angry that Connie is not trying to do more to get away. She is inside her house safe and with a telephone, yet seems unable to do anything but bend to the will of Arnold. Oates does this to exaggerate and draw attention to the overall significance of the oppression Connie is experiencing. She is helpless to the will of Arnold. Connie goes out of the house and joins Arnold, and most likely to face her death. The “death of the maiden” motif becomes most clear here. Connie “belongs to a tradition of domesticated Eves; for them Satan’s entrance into the garden… is the approach of… Arnold Friend” (Gillis 66). Connie finally succumbs to death and probable rape at the hands of a man.
At the end of “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard goes downstairs with her sister. Brently Mallard then walks inside and despite Richard attempting to block him from view, Mrs. Mallard dies at the sight of him. (Chopin 654). It is not explicitly said, but Mrs. Mallard most likely died at the sight of her husband because she realized that her life as a free woman was abruptly taken away from her. Mrs. Mallard could not taste freedom and have it snatched away and still live with it. Chopin does this to instill the fact that “… the position of women in the late nineteenth-century American society as so bleak that the attempt to break from the life-denying limitations of patriarchal society is itself self-destructive (Cunningham 51). The reader at this point feels nothing but shock and anger that Mrs. Mallard must end her life because she can no longer withstand the oppression her husband and her marriage held over her.
Both stories parallel the “death of the maiden motif” most clearly at their end. The death of both Connie and Mrs. Mallard has ultimately shown that men will always deliver women to their ultimate sacrifice. Whether that sacrifice be their freedom, their life, or their strength in themselves, men will always bring them to their weakest point in this patriarchal society.
The Use Of Irony In Kate Chopin’s The Story Of An Hour
Despite the fact that it is hard to be against the general public’s convictions writer Kate Chopin beats that to create a quality thought-provoking literature. Utilizing conventions of narrative stories like character development, plot development, and irony to her advantage, she lures readers into the world of emotions that the most people would not approve of. Kate Chopin proves her appreciable literary talent in ‘The Story of an Hour’ by making the plot and character development hand-in-hand and with her use of narrative irony and intriguing vocabulary.
Chopin marvelously integrates two conventions of account fiction, plot and character development. Plot is a literary term used to describe the events that make up a story, or the main part of a story. In the plot of narrative stories there is an exposition, rise to action, climax, and a fall from action. Character development is second thing that allows Chopin write such an intriguing story. Character is what stays with you after you have finished reading a story. The actions in the plot are performed by the characters in the story. Characters make something happen or produce an effect. Chopin utilizes character development to intensify the plot so much that readers can feel the emotions very closely. In the story, these are dynamically interconnected to one another.
The plot mainly takes place in the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard’s mind, which makes it crucial for readers to understand her personality and where her thoughts stem from. She is portrayed as a tender woman who suffers some heart trouble. This is important to the plot as it explains why her sister exercised caution to break the news to her. Mrs. Mallard is also described as being “young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength”. This is an important piece of information as it explains why she grieves her husband’s death only momentarily. In simple words, repression means the action or process of suppressing a thought or desire in oneself so that it remains unconscious. Mrs. Mallard’s marriage was restricting in a sense that she never could express herself freely except in her unconscious. We can observe that Mrs. Mallard becomes extremely confused on hearing the news; she resists her newly acquired freedom as it is her characteristic trait of being timid and weak and powerless. As she begins to accept the feeling of liberation, she starts calling herself a “goddess of Victory”. According to Urban Dictionary A goddess is a woman who is so beautiful, brilliant, and wholesome that she is simply not like any other women on Earth and therefore possesses some sort of uncommon spiritual element that while is cannot be solidly defined it is clearly present. Mrs. Mallard begins to feel beautiful and happy as she wins the battle of wills after years of oppression in her marriage. She first shows off her newfound beauty and strength when she lets her sister in to see the “triumph in her eyes”.
The aforementioned blend of character and plot development not only to the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard, but also to Mr. Brently Mallard. The only glimpse we get into Mr. Mallard’s character is from this part of the text: “Chopin writes “There would 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. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime…”. However, much more is disclosed through the passage. He was portrayed as, in contrast to Mrs. Mallard, powerful and oblivious to how he was tormenting his wife. As the other minor characters don’t play a major role, they are left to the reader’s imagination.
Chopin employs irony, a fundamental characteristic of realism, to bring surprise and to deepen the plot. ‘The Story of an Hour’ turns on a progression of guileful regulated ironies that come full circle in the end. There are quite a few instances of this, starting with of Mr. Mallard’s friend Richard taking the time to affirm his name with a second telegram, and afterward toward the finish of the story things being what they are, he isn’t even associated with the accident. Another irony is from Mrs. Mallard’s perspective: “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long”. Her wish was answered and when she discovered she quickly had a deadly heart attack. Moreover, Chopin presents us with the biggest irony: the use of word ‘joy’. Mrs. Mallard feels a “monstrous joy” of finally being free and enjoying her life. Next, doctors use it when they say that she died “of heart disease — of joy that kills”. It is ironic that Mrs. Mallard didn’t die due to the joy of seeing her husband alive but because of the worry that she might never feel the monstrous joy ever again. Using irony, Kate Chopin really creates an exemplary example of Realism literature.
Irony isn’t the only thing Chopin uses to enrich “The Story of an Hour”. She also delegates metaphor, narrative style and intriguing vocabulary. Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble can be interpreted as a psychological issue due to less than ideal marriage rather than a physical ailment. Chopin uses “new spring life”, “delicious breath of air”, “blue sky showing through the clouds”, “drinking in a very elixir of life”, “summer days”, et cetera to describe Mrs. Mallard’s feelings towards her husband’s death. She also uses the metaphor: “an open window’ she sits at in the beginning of the plot. The window here means a window into the perspective of the protagonist rather than a part of the setting. When Mrs. Mallard says she “would have no one follow her”, she means she would have no one interfere with her new life again. These are all tools Kate Chopin uses to paint a wonderful picture of emotions of a woman for the readers.
By interconnecting plot, characters, irony and beautiful narration, Kate Chopin gives us an invaluable piece of literature that will be praised for a long time to come.
Springtime Imagery in The Story of an Hour
In “The Story of an Hour”, Kate Chopin uses powerful imagery to allow the reader to feel Mrs. Mallard’s true emotions. Visuals in a story can provide an enormous amount of information about a character. What the character sees out a window can tell us their perspective on how they view the world. Imagery helps the reader put themselves in that character’s shoes. The descriptive details allow us to fully experience the story being told. By experiencing what the character feels, important themes can be revealed. One of the main themes in “The Story of an Hour” is the theme of freedom. This is clear through Mrs. Mallard’s repetition of “Free, free, free” under her breath but is also seen through Chopin’s use of imagery in a less direct way. In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”, the image of the “delicious rain” and “quivering trees with new spring life” both work together to bring out the theme of a new beginning.
After hearing the news of her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard weeps uncontrollably and proceeds to lock herself in her room. Although she is quite emotional, this is the type of reaction you would expect from a new widow. She sits down in her chair and was “pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach her soul”(Paragraph 3). Then she decides to look out her window and, “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life”(Paragraph 4). This line is very important as spring is associated with a new beginning. Rather than feeling her life is over after the passing of her husband, she feels it is just beginning. Spring represents renewal and birth. Mrs.Mallard is beginning to feel this sense of freedom and realizes what her husband’s death means for her life. Winter has now died, and spring has finally arrived. Winter is normally associated with isolation or sadness, which are feelings that Mrs. Mallard most likely felt in her marriage. After a long and dreadful winter, Mrs. Mallard is finally seeing the beauty within the world as she looks out the window and sees her new life ahead of her. The open window provides a clear, bright view into the distance and Mrs. Mallard’s bright future, which is now unobstructed by the demands of another person. As Mrs. Mallard begins to finally see the world as it is, losing her husband is not a great loss so much as an opportunity to move beyond the “blind persistence” of the bondage of marriages back then. Mrs. Mallard reaches her conclusions of independence through the environment, the imagery of which symbolically associates Mrs. Mallard’s private awakening with the beginning of life in the spring season.
The next line in the story reinforces the theme of a new beginning. After looking at the “quivering trees”, Mrs. Mallard says that “The delicious breath of rain was in the air.” Because Chopin mixes senses by using a word normally associated with taste to describe living (“breath”), her word choice is also an example of synesthesia, which mixes sensory images. More importantly, rain is normally seen as a symbol of sadness or grief. By giving Mrs. Mallard a positive reaction to the “delicious breath of rain”, it changes the reader’s point of view on the story. Mrs. Mallard’s moment of grief quickly passes as her outlook on life changes as she sits in her room and thinks about her future. When she realizes her newly found independence and all that it entails, she feels as if she is beginning life anew. Instead of rain being a symbol of sadness and mourning for her husband, it serves as a cleansing. A cleansing that washes away her past life and gives her a fresh start. She is now free, free to live her life the way she pleases without having to answer to anyone not even her husband.
These lines together serve as the first clues to the reader to show that there is more going on in the story than just someone who has lost their husband. Although they are two short sentences, the imagery they produce helps the reader feel the experience that Mrs. Mallard is going through. They are pivotal sentences where the mood shifts from mourning death to the prospect of a new beginning. As she sits in her comfortable chair, gazing out her window, dark clouds part to show the blue sky, and the promise of rain also brings the “new spring life” that she sees in the trees. Springtime imagery gives a sense of renewal that underlines Chopin’s idea that Mrs. Mallard is on a journey to a new life.