5 October 2018
The Story of an Hour
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin deals with the ironic plot twist of Mrs.Mallard’s relief of losing her husband. This short story illustrates a theme of remorse and a woman’s role in marriage. Throughout the story Mrs.Mallard is joyed with the feeling of being free, after imagining the next chapter of her life without her husband. The theme is reflected using the literary device irony. There are many types of irony that is presented throughout the story. Some types that are shown specifically in this story are situational, dramatic irony to display a well developed detailed description of Mrs.Mallard’s reaction to hearing the news.
Situational irony is irony that has differences from what is expected to happen and what actually happens. In this position of when Mrs.Mallard finds out her husband has passed, she proceeds to act how someone who just heeded the news of someone they love passing. Chopin states, “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms”(Chopin 38). Chopin is displaying the formal response to Mrs.Mallard finding out her husband was on the “killed” list from the accident that supposedly killed her husband. Later on in the story Chopin then states, “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: ‘ Free, free, free!'”(Chopin 39). This quote shows the presentation of how Mrs.Mallard transitioned into acting how you would expect to happen. While Mrs.Mallard was showing her natural response to the news, she realized that was a distraction to how she really felt emotionally and mentally. Mrs.Mallard screaming represents her being free from her marriage that was toxic to her life. Her reaction makes her eyes open up to the realization that the accident granted her what she really wanted all this time.This shows how blinded their marriage was even though she loved her husband.
As Mrs.Mallard explains her feelings towards the morning she is going through she states, “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death…But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely”(Choplin 40). Like previously mentioned, Mrs.Mallard shows her grief as she discusses that she will react to Mr.Mallard’s body being put to rest. When she realized she was free from his power, she didn’t grasp the fact that she would still have to see him go. Shortly after, Mrs.Mallard would start to think about her future of being a single women. Being that she will be on her own, she will have only her power to control what she wants to do without someone stopping her.
This is where the theme of marriage develops. Marriage in the past was a big part in the 1800’s, women did not have a right to do anything wihtout the husbands permission. They were always told to stay at home and do “work” like clean and cook for the husband so they are well taking care of when the husband comes home. In this situation it seemed like Mrs.Mallard had it bad, due to the fact that she is happy and ready for the next chapter of her life without being under her husband’s control.
Furthermore, the second type of irony that this story acquires is dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is irony that the readers are more attentive to what is happening than the character. Mrs.Mallard starts comprehending that this was a good thing in her life, but what she does not realize is that her thoughts running through her head are actually effecting her in a way. Chopin states, ” ‘Free! Body and soul free!’ she kept whispering. Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. ‘Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door— you will make yourself ill. What are you doin Louise? For heaven’s sake open the door’. ‘Go away. I am not making myself ill'”(chopin 40). This qoute shows that us as readers see that Mrs.Mallard is going crazy with the fact that she is a single women now. Josephine her sister, acts upon Mrs.Mallard going insane for her freedom. She starts saying how it will make her ill and Mrs.Mallard refuses to believe, in some way she feels powerful to the point where she thinks she is invensible. Another example is when Mrs.Mallard is in the room locked on her own. Chopin states, “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”(Chopin 41). This qoute shows that she was ready and set to start her life to the point where she wanted to pray for the luck for her new life, she believed that she would live a longer life with freedom. Little does she know this is effecting her health with all the overwhelming of her emotion. Lastly, the most ironic part of this story is at the end, when Mr.Mallard showed up at the front step. “He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richard’s quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife. When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of joy that kills”(Chopin 41). This qoute is the last couple of lines in the story, which is very powerful with how ironic it is. They have mistaken putting his name on the paper saying he was one of the “killed”, he was last seen around the scene but never was involved in the accident. Mrs.Mallard shock of seeing him still alive, kills her because she was so overjoyed with her life without him. When he arrived she realized that her joy was for nothing and it ironically kills her, even though she had a pre existing heart disease that was not known of by anyone.
Out of all the stories read in our fiction unit, The Story of an Hour is my favorite one that I have read. Not only is the author’s comments helping the readers understand the story, I just enjoyed how ironic it was. That is why I picked to write about this, the irony is very clear with a twist at the end. Even though men had more power over women in marriage in the 1800’s, I see that still in relationships between my friends in toxic situations. The men always have more power in a toxic relationship they tell women what to wear, how to act, who to be friends with, etc. Once they get into a fight and “break up” the women get overjoyed and filled with relief till something happens and they get back together. During that time they think about moving on living their life, and it’s quickly back to the toxic life they lived with their significant other. That situation with some friends even myself, reminded me of this story. I in my opinion loved this short story and would love to read more stories like The Story of an Hour.