The Story of an Hour (Short Story)

How is irony used in the story of an hour?

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Answered 2009-09-08 18:33:44

In "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, there are many moments when Chopin's craft of writing feeds the irony of the story. One perfect example, "assure himself of its truth by a second telegram" (772). This sentence subdued me into believing that Mrs. Mallard's husband was dead, when in fact, we learn that he never died. In addition, Mrs. Mallard is a woman with a strong sense of passion and detest. In the end, she dies by the nature of story. Chopin brings a style of writing that has irony. In the beginning of the story, Chopin's introduces you to the heart trouble that afflicts Mrs. Mallard. Her condition is significant later because this ailment drives the story. However, the notion of this heart condition can be overlooked as being meaningless. Many readers could argue that this heart condition foreshadowed the climax of the story instantaneously but it does not. In the end of the story, we realize the significance of her sickness. It was a clever way to secretly introduce the weakness that ends Mrs. Mallard's life. Another, well deceptive measure used by Chopin's was to suggest that Mr. Mallard had died. In paragraph 2, Mr. Mallard's friend, Richards, confirmed twice that such allegations were in fact true (772). At that moment, I conceived that Mr. Mallard was dead. There was no other clue to believe otherwise and it was one of the strongest signs delivered in the story, because it left you unprepared for what was to come in the end.

When Chopin wrote, "She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms", I felt her sense of passion and emotional attachment to her husband (772). Mrs. Mallard also opposed her husband as much as she cared for him. For a women being ill, and just being notified of her husbands death, it's awkward to read how she describes the surroundings while in her room. She describes the tops of trees being, "all aquiver with the new spring life", and the air being filled with, "delicious breath of rain" (772). What all this symbolizes is a new beginning for Mrs. Mallard. At this particular moment in the story, it is a little elusive to make that judgment, however, in paragraph 11 it is very easy to ascertain. When Mrs. Mallard says, "Free, free, free!", it is very clear that Mrs. Mallard has come to an understanding that she's free from her unhappy marriage (772); "But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome." (772-773). There is also evidence provided in the text that tells us Mrs. Mallard was living a Victorian life giving me a reason to understand why she did not remorse like I would expect. "There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence." (773). In the Victorian era, women were seen as weak, helpless and incapable of making decision. Their focus was to tend to the house and care for the children. Mrs. Mallard was living that lifestyle which was the cause of her negative outlook on life and her joy for her husband's death. Sadly, Mrs. Mallard was destined to die. Throughout the story, Mrs. Mallard resentment for life is made clear. "It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long" and "And yet she had loved him-sometimes. Often she had not." (773). All of this attest to the conclusion that Mrs. Mallard dreaded her life. She did not love her husband and she look down on the possibility of a long life. It all movies the bad guy never comes out victorious and Chopin's was not going to let that happen in this story. Mrs. Mallard's death only made sense. What is amusing about this story is what is stated in the last line of the story, "When the doctors came they said she had died of Heart disease-of joy that kills" (773). Mrs. Mallard, who was joyful of being liberated, has a heart attack after the shocking realization that her husband was alive. Mrs. Mallard's death was inevitable by the course of the story but its ironic knowing that her enjoyment of her husband's death lead to the fatal reaction to him being alive.

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