Sunday, June 19, 2011

story of an hour

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Kate Chopin was ahead of her time. Most of Chopins well known stories deal with a marriage that is out of balance and a woman who wishes to be free. In The Story of an Hour, (Hour) Chopin makes an ironic twist on this theme. The wife in this fictional short story does not even realize she is dissatisfied with her marriage until she is told her husband has been killed. This theme is an amazing feat considering she rebelled against society in the 1800s to open the eyes of many women.

In 184, Chopin wrote Hour. In this story the speaker describes the experience of a woman with heart trouble immediately after receiving news of her husbands death. Instead of the expected reaction Louise Mallard actually has a moment of relief realizing the freedoms she has were taken from her by an unhappy marriage. All the events of the story take place within an hour in Louises home. In the final minutes of the hour, Mrs. Mallard is shocked to see that her husband walks through the front door alive and well, which causes her to have a heart attack and die. Her family believes she had a heart attack because she was overjoyed. The speaker leads the reader to come to the conclusion the heart attack was actually caused by Louise discovering that the freedoms she looked forward too no longer existed.

This fictional short story takes place in the house of the Mallards in America during the 180s. Chopin opens the story with the scene where Mrs. Mallard is about to be informed by her sister, Josephine, of Mr. Mallards death. This quote sets up the whole story; Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husbands death. At the end of the story, it becomes clear that this sentence foreshadows the storys climax. Chopin lets the reader in on what is going to happen to Mrs. Mallard by hinting at her death without giving any major information away. This exposition sets up the story very well.

Next, to begin the rising action, Mrs. Mallard is told of her husbands death. She cries at first, then goes alone into her room. While sitting in her room she looks out the window into a new life. She observes life going on with birds singing, a peddler working and the trees blooming. She is looking into nature thinking that nature is free of restrictions. Thinking about her changing life she calms herself and realizes she is free.

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When Mrs. Mallard realizes her new found freedoms, she slowly opens the door to her sister. Just when Mrs. Mallard discovered her new found joy the door opened and things took a turn for the worst, it was Mr. Mallard. In the falling action, Mrs. Mallard screams and falls over dead. To resolve the story the doctors said she had died of heart disease--of joy that kills.

Chopin creates a very skewed plot in Hour. The reader is given the background and there are many events leading to the turning point. Then there is a very steep drop to the resolution of the short story. This story is structured in chronological order and in the time frame of an hour.

The protagonist in Hour is Mrs. Mallard and she has a conflict with, fate and freedom, the antagonist. Mrs. Mallard is the main character of the story who suffers from a heart condition. She is a very round character. Mrs. Mallard is a young lady who looks old for her age. She felt free after hearing the news of her husbands death. Louise is very emotional throughout the entire story. Mrs. Mallard works her way from being depressed and scared to a feeling of joy. When her husband walks in her new life is taken away and she falls over dead.

Richards is Mr. Mallards best friend who hears of his friends death due to a railroad disaster. He informs Josephine about the tragedy and insists that she cautiously tell her sister about it. Josephine reluctantly passes on the news to Mrs. Mallard. She was reluctant to tell her sister the news because of Mrs. Mallards heart problem. Josephine worries that her sisters weak heart could not handle the bitter news.

Richards is a stock character in the story. He remains neutral throughout the story as an informer and observer. Richards stays present at the Mallards household, witnessing almost every event there. Josephine, is a pivotal character. She sets a train of events in motion the moment she informs her sister of her husbands death. Josephines character is loving, warm, and protective of her sister. Her loyalty lingers from the beginning of the story to the surprising end.

The point of view of Hour is told in third person limited omniscient. The theme of this story is things never happen the way we want or expect them to. It is very important to always make the best of every situation. The underlying theme is that marriage can be a prison sentence or punishment and sometimes death is the only way women can realize this and be free.

The tone is realistic, the story does a great job capturing an assertive womans mind in the 1800s. The mood of the characters is serious and optimistic, which reflects Mrs. Mallards personality.

Chopin illustrates dramatic irony through Josephine. As josephine stood separated from her sister by the door, she whispered, Louise open the door! I beg you will make yourself ill. Josephine thought her sister was mourning over her husbands death. But the reader sees past the door that stands in front of Josephine. The reader saw the joy that filled Mrs. Mallards now independent heart. Louise was entirely satisfied with her new life. The characters did not realize the joy Louise had.

The windows and doors are very significant in this story. Images from the window like, the tops of trees that were aquiver with the new spring life, establish a positive mood around her. The delicious breath of rain can almost be tasted, and Mrs. Mallard hears the peddler, the notes of a distant song some one was signing and the twittering sparrows. These vibrant images, are an example of natural life, conbined with the expected grief, and the mood around the window is the start of a new beginning. Mrs. Mallard seems able to reach out through the window with her senses even though she cannot physically go through the window.

There are many symbols in Hour. To begin with the title of the story symbolizes the life of Louise. Her new life only lasts an hour. The new spring life represents the new life that Mrs. Mallard now has. The peddler crying symbolizes her old life and how she felt during the years of her marriage. There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled above the other in the west facing her window. The patches though the clouds represent more of a Mrs. Mallard finding her life and remembering her husband.

In this quote as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dream, Chopin uses a simile to show the reader just how hard Mrs. Mallard is crying. Another example of a simile is as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been, because Chopin is comparing Mrs. Mallards two feminine hands with powerlessness.

A monstrous joy is an example of a hyperbole. Chopin used this to describe what Mrs. Mallard was feeling. Joy being monstrous brings up the thought that you shouldnt be happy in the first place. Being overjoyed that your husband died horribly is not the normal way to feel. She felt a little joy at first, but to say the joy was monstrous is an exageration.

Mrs. Mallard faces a variety of conflicts in Hour. First of all, Louise Mallard has a conflict with society. She

The purpose of this story is for Chopin to inform and share her personal thoughts. She shows how marriage is a form of slavery and how unpredictable life can be. Death plagued Chopin through her whole life. At the age of five, her father died in a train accident. Seven years later her great grandmother died, who she had been living with for six years. The same year, Chopins half brother died of typhoid fever. She married, Oscar Chopin, and had six children, but in 188 Oscar died of malaria. Knowing this information the reader can assume Chopin is showing us how unpredictable life can be and that women in society are imprisoned by men. Sometimes the only way to realize this is death. With this information the reader can conclude Chopin herself is the speaker. She wrote the story about her own life. It is reasonable to assume Chopin felt the same way Mrs. Mallard did when her husband died. Chopin realized her new found freedom after the death of her husband. She published the story in 184 at the age of fourtyfour.

Hour is geared toward an audience of middle aged women during the late 1800s who may have be cought up in an unhappy marriage. During the time Chopin wrote this story women were almost totally dominated by their husbands. A womans duties were limited to cooking, raising chilren, and home management. Women lived only to please their husbands. Chopin and Mrs. Mallard refused to comply with this stereotype in their society. Since the 1800s society has made great movement to take the feeling of slavery and imprisonment away from marriage. In society today it is very important that women and men are treated equal.

In this fictional tale Chopin presents a bias against men treating their wifes like slaves in the 1800s. She is striving to help women realize they have to stand up for themselves, instead of just doing what their husbands want of them. Choplin wants to present to society that women are not slaves and should not be held prisoner in a marriage.

When I first began reading Hour, Mrs. Mallard seemed like an old woman because of the line, afflicted with a heart trouble. I was surprised when Chopin told the reader that She was young, but interestingly she is described as having a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression which describes her as being old for her age. This makes me wonder, How young is she? Another question that came to mind was, What really kills Mrs. Mallard when her husband walks in the door? I came to the conclusion that Mrs. Mallard dies because seeing Mr. Mallard takes her new found freedom away. The only way to remain free was to die.

This is quality literature because the irony keeps readers interested and in suspense. The use of irony Chopin uses in Hour keeps readers attached to the story and lets readers understand Mrs. Mallards true feelings about her husband. The way Mrs. Mallard expresses her emotions towards her husband makes the story likable. Her character traits and the way Chopin puts the ironic twist into the story keeps you interested. What I liked about the story was how Chopin used irony to inform readers of Brently Mallards false death. Her use of irony kept me in suspense throughout the story and shocked me at the end when I learned that Brently Mallard was still alive. The reason Chopin informs readers of his false death is to let the reader know how Mrs. Mallard feels towards her husband. She did not feel pity or agony for her husband. Once Brently supposedly dies, Mrs. Mallard is looking forward to the future. What I also liked was how Chopin used good details when she describes Mrs. Mallard. She describes her as being young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. You can easily paint a picture of Mrs. Mallards face with Chopins details. It makes the story a lot easier to read and it keeps you interested. The third thing I liked about this story was how Chopin ended the story with Mrs. Mallards death. Once Brently walked through the door, Mrs. Mallards life collapsed. All of her hopes and dreams for the future had disappeared. Once Mrs. Mallard saw Brently, she died. She had been so happy with his death that it killed her to see him again. As you can see, the use of irony, the details, and all of the suspense makes this story very enjoyable to read.

In conclusion, I enjoyed Kate Chopins Story of an Hour and found her unique writing style brave and heroic. She was ahead of her time in the womens movement. The story is very deceptive, only shedding its secrets through vague symbolism and implications. But through researching Chopins life story and analyzing this story I was able to interpret the meaning and purpose of this great story. Though I have to admit reading other short is easier to read and understand, but that just takes the fun out of trying to solve the mystery.

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