Literary elements of ‘The Story of an hour’
The story of an hour is Kate Chopin’s book that is compressed to 1,000 words yet very rich in literary devices and exhibits a number of themes through the topics. It was first published in 1884. The story is developed with different styles and structure in that shows the story is written in short paragraphs with a series of sentences that are either two or three in number. The structure fits the story perfectly as the writer demonstrates the intense hour in which Mallard contemplates her newfound freedom from the moment she learnt of her husband’s death to his unexpected return. Chopin employs the use of literary devices such as foreshadowing, symbolism, repetition and irony to develop the themes that are present in the story. the story addresses the repressive nature of marriage and searches for an identity for the women in marriage.
The first sentence in the story of an hour is developed by presenting the heart troubles and condition that Mrs. Mallard had since her childhood. The use of her heart problems in the story is developed to symbolize the emotional core of an individual (Fluck, 151-171). The heart problems described by Chopin in the book are used to symbolize the emotional heart problems as they relate to the heart. When her sister is breaking the news to her on her husband’s death the author states that the news was delivered to her “in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing” (Chopin pg. 1). It is because they are conceived she is weak due to her heart condition. Mrs. Mallard was always protected by her sister an act which restricted her freedom.
It is often assumed that when a woman is bereaved of her husband’s death and she is not sad, the marriage was a bad one, but in the story, Chopin describes Mallard and Bentley’s marriage to be the best with no flaw but yet after the death of her husband she started to feel free. She was although in grief for a while she had imagined now a life of freedom. Mrs. Mallard feels liberated and a freewoman after the death of her husband. Mrs. Mallard had been clearly confined to her marriage and now she has the freedom. She believes with the death of his husband his life will be happier and she gets to be independent. while Mallard began enjoying her new freedom, she dies from a heart disease.” but she was beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely” (Chopin,13) Mrs. Mallard was a lonely woman who loved staying in her house behind closed doors, even with her freedom “When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her” (Chopin, 3). Despite having the freedom she longed for she still decided to continue leading a lonely life.
Mrs. Mallard herself in the story is used as a symbol of other women in a marriage that is the central theme in the story of an hour by Chopin. That use of Mrs. Mallard and her heart condition that saw her being protected is presented to show the clear portrayal of women and their roles in the 19th century. In the story, Kate develops the theme of marriage in every chapter that she illustrates as to be centered around the belief among men and women that one has a right to impose their private will upon a fellow being. The theme of marriage presented shows how Mrs. Mallard believed that freedom is restricted by love and marriage hence the cost does not equal the cost. Mrs. Mallard was described as to be fed with the protection which as well implies the afflicted will of other people on someone which is the traditional nature of marriage, thus one gets fed up (Fluck, 151-171).
Louise was ecstatically happy upon realizing the death of her husband which was developed as a surprise by Chopin in the short story. The reaction was elated with a murmur of ‘free’, “Free! Body and soul free!”. In the story, Chopin is successful in making every sentence important by employing literary elements such as repetition of the word such as “free” to emphasize the new freedom of Louise’s that she had acquired. The word free is repeated over and over especially by mention from Louise showing how much she had cherished the newfound freedom (Yansheng, 16). Through this style, we are able to learn that Mrs. Mallard had never been in an environment that would allow her to make her own decisions which were as the norm for women in marriage at the time. She wanted to be free from the protection that had her fed up in her entire life. Hence had her last moments alive living her dream, a dream that allowed her to have options.
In conclusion the story of an intense hour of Mrs. Mallard, although short has extensive use of literary devices that help the story come out precise and clear. With the help of symbolism, repetition, iron and foreshadowing Chopin is able to create an all-inclusive story that happens over a short period of time. The story shows the enlighten of Louise as a free person who achieved her self-identity for a short while as her dreams were seen to be shattered with the return of her husband returning her to a mere subvert wife. this ending shows the irony of the story that is not tragic but rather a relief in that Louise was able to escape marriage in the way that she could.
Chopin, Kate. The story of an hour. Joe Books Ltd, 2018.
Fluck, Winfried. “Tentative Transgressions: Kate Chopin’s Fiction as a Mode of Symbolic Action.” Studies in American Fiction 10.2 (1982): 151-171.
Yansheng, M. A. O. “Implicit irony and explicit iconicity——Multi irony from iconic perspective in The Story of An Hour.” Journal of Guangzhou University (Social Science Edition) 8 (2010): 16.