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Summary: the Life of a Woman Throughout the Nineteenth Century; The Story of An Hour

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In the excerpt “The Story of an Hour,” written by Kate Chopin, the author establishes a central idea that life may be very complex and it is only how the individual reacts to the situation that matters most. The story details a woman, Mrs. Mallard, who battles her emotions after her husbands death. Mrs. Mallards whimpering can be viewed by the amount of respect that she possessed for her husband. The story had been written in the late eighteen hundreds where women were repressed in particular settings, specifically their own households. As a direct result, women were subordinate to men as they had to show their husbands and the men around them their utmost respect. Through the use of hyperbole, symbolism and dramatic irony, it can be seen that inevitably, no matter the intensity of the situation, one has the ability to free themselves from potentially their own downfall.

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The opening lines of the story introduce a solemn tone; the death of Mrs. Mallard’s husband as revealed to her by her sister Josephine. She had been in sudden disbelief after she found out the horrific news—-her husband had died in an accident. While the story is told from a third person point of view, the inner monologue with the omniscient narrator really allows the readers to feel sympathy for the protagonist and the events in which she is currently going through. Alone in her room, she begins to ponder and think about where life will bring her. She gazes out of her window, where she sees a formation of clouds. The array of clouds is perhaps used as a symbol for hope—although her husband died, she must have the courage and determination to move forward with her life. The color of the clouds, white, may depict the purity inside of Mrs. Mallard as she now has to start supporting and watching over herself, without the care of no one around her. The heart traditionally symbolize’s the emotions of the individual. It is understandable based on the situation, Mrs. Mallard may be in an unbalanced mood. Yet, as an elderly women, generally a sense of containment towards ones emotions is present. Weeping in her sisters arms may seem as inappropriate and does not fit in the occurrence of events, as it is considered to be overdramatic. As directly stated in the story “she wept at once, with sudden, wild astonishment in her sisters arms”. Evidently, her feelings can relate to herself as an individual, particularly her inner soul. The heart of Louise can be seen as a symbol, as emotionally she is very weak. She blatantly expresses her emotions rather than privately coping with them. Her physical heart problems may symbolize her emotional heart problems specifically as it pertains to her marriage; very controlling and lack of privilege.

Following the deep intonation of sorrow and sadness, Mrs. Mallard also expressed a feeling of freedom. This seems to be very ironic; how can someone be excited at a time of losing a loved one? It is at this point in the story, that Mrs. Mallard experiences an internal conflict between her emotions. For the initial time in her life as a human being, she could do what she wants without the deliberation of another person. As her happiness is eradicated through her mind and soul, she begins to murmur “free, free, free” . She would not only be free physically, but emotionally as well. Mrs. Mallard displays inconsistencies amongst the feelings for her husband as she first expresses grief followed by joy. Perhaps the reason for this change in emotions is due to the ideal that Mr. Mallard may have made Mrs. Mallard do things that she was not comfortable doing. Yet, as Mrs. Mallard was lower in rank than her husband, she had to do what her husband told her to without question, as the hierarchy of men were above the women at the setting of the story.

Furthermore, the literary device of hyperbole, an exaggeration, is presented, as after Mrs. Mallard expresses her joy of her husbands death, she continues to explicitly reveal her happiness. This is now the second instance in which she reveals her contentment. Mrs. Mallard took a sad moment and turned it into one of pleasure. The actions of Louise become increasingly strange. Louise had continued to murmur that she had been at liberty and peace. Yet again, Mrs. Mallard had been screaming so loud, to the point where Josephine had to come to her door and ask “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door—you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the door.” At this point, it is obvious that Louise seeks attention on this sad occasion, which is contrary to what most people would be feeling after a death in the family. I personally remember that when my grandfather died, I was in first grade, six years old, and I could not leave my house for a few days—I was in constant sadness thinking about how much he has done for me and the lack of opportunity that I have going forward.

The structural pattern throughout helps maximize the drama that occurs throughout the period of the story—which is only for one hour. The short and simplistic style of the story directly relates to Mrs. Mallards life; short, simplistic and very lonely. Yet, just as the readers may feel sympathy for Mrs. Mallard, Chopin gives the readers the element of surprise when her husband Brently Mallard, entered through the door. As directly described in the story “Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know their had been one” .While this turns the entire story in a completely different direction, Mrs. Mallard’s reaction may seem to be ironic, specifically dramatic irony, and simultaneously abrupt—she perhaps may have been increasingly shocked to see her husband, that she died out of joy. The joy that she experienced earlier is completely over. The story notes a kind “of joy that kills”. The reactions of Mrs. Mallard establishes her as a dynamic character as she goes through important inner change. Ultimately, her intuition has conquered her in a negative way, one in which leads the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard to take her own life.

The story effectively portrays the life of a woman in the throughout the nineteenth century; little rights, lack of freedom and controlling spouses. Chopin effectively portrays that one must explore life to the fullest extent, as they do not know how their life will turn out in the near future. Chopin used hyperbole, symbolism and dramatic irony, to help the reader view the meaning of life through on a broader scale.  

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