Analysis of The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
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In "The Story of an Hour" Kate Chopin tells the story of a woman, Mrs. Mallard whose husband is thought to be dead. Throughout the story Chopin describes the emotions Mrs. Mallard felt about the news of her husband's death. However, the strong emotions she felt were not despair or sadness, they were something else. In a way she was relieved more than she was upset, and almost rejoiced in the thought of her husband no longer living. In using different literary elements throughout the story, Chopin conveys this to us on more than one occasion.
In the third paragraph of the story, Chopin describes Mrs. Mallard as she goes into her room and sits on an armchair. Chopin describes how Mallard ?sank pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted the body and seemed to reach into her soul?. In this point of the story Chopin uses symbolism connecting Mrs. Mallard and the chair, the chair representing the death of her husband and her feelings about it. How it was ?a comfortable roomy chair?, she is showing us how Mrs. Mallard was ?comfortable? with her husband?s death and now felt she had room to exist freely. This is supported by the lines ?she would live for herself now. There would be no powerful will bending her in the blind?? This demonstrating to the reader that she felt controlled by her husband, and that she would no longer bet tied down to the ways of the time, which were men control women. This also supported by Jennifer Hicks in her overview of the story which states " Later, when we see Mrs. Mallard "warm and relaxed", we realize that problem with her heart is that her marriage has not allowed her to "live for herself"."
Another example of how Mrs. Mallard was more uplifted than brought down by the news of her husband?s death is the description of the window. As Mrs. Mallard looks out Chopin explains ?she could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all a quiver with new life?. This is telling the reader about the new life that Mrs. Mallard can see in the distance that symbolizes the new life she saw that lay ahead of her now that she was free of her husband. This thought being supported by Hicks in saying "The revalation of freedom occurs in the bedroom"
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The feelings of Mrs. Mallard are also demonstrated in the middle of the story when Chopin says ? she new 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?. In these to quotes both sides of the spectrum of Mrs. Mallard?s emotions are displayed. The first quote shows us that while she felt liberated by his death she did not despise him. She didn?t harbor a particular ill will for his existence, and did not particularly think she was mistreated, but that she was the product of the society that she lived in. In an aritcle about the story it is said
"This feeling; freedom, is obviously something Louise hasn?t felt for a really long time. She now rambles on about that she loved him, but now she is perfectly happy and more than that with the fact that she had regained her freedom."
This supporting the idea that, at the same time she felt liberated, she also felt some sadness because someone she new, and new loved her had died. Mrs. Mallard was somewhat conflicted about her husband?s death.In showing her guilt for feeling liberated we see that she is not a monster but simply someone who had no choice in the life she had to lead with her husband alive. Chopin conveys this to us in saying ?And yet she had loved him, sometimes?. In the Howard article on Chopin it is stated that " When mallard alive and healthy returns, she dies of the "joy that kills", so the doctors believe. This supporting the idea that Chopin is showing us the irony irony of the story is that when Mrs. Mallard discovers her husband is not dead and in fact very much alive, she is killed by an overwhelming oncoming of emotion.
Throughout the story we are shown that Mrs. Mallard is not a woman of her time.. Chopin uses literary elements of irony and symbolisim to convey the true feeling of her character. We are show the feelings of a woman who was not necessarily blittled by her husband but restrained by her marriage due to the time she lived in.
Chopin, Kate. ?The Story of an Hour.? Third. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin?s, 2006.
Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “The Story of an Hour” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints abouthow to use PaperStarter.comin the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.• To Refresh : Here is a Full Plot Summary of “Story of an Hour” by Chopin •
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 “The Story of an Hour" as a Feminist Text
Author Kate Chopin is well-known for some of the most seminal feminist stories and novels in the Western canon. “The Story of an Hour" is one such text. In this story, Chopin addresses many of the concerns that are central to feminism, including the determination and expression of a woman’s unique identity distinct from the identity of her husband and the right of a woman to identify and experience her own interests. While there is an aspect of this story that is controversial—namely, that Mrs. Mallard feels excited after learning that her husband has died—the reader can empathize with Mrs. Mallard’s feelings and support her. For more on this topic, check out this oand its discussion of marriage and women's roles.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2 : The Theme of Guilt in “The Story of an Hour”
One of the aspects of “The Story of an Hour" that is compelling—both fascinating and repellent—to the reader is the fact that Mrs. Mallard feels excitement after learning that her husband has been killed in an accident. Mrs. Mallard anticipates the possibility of finally being able to live for herself, rather than for or in relation to her husband. Rather than condemn Mrs. Mallard for such an emotion, the reader empathizes with Mrs. Mallard. Although her husband did not appear to be abusive, the reader intuitively understands that Mrs. Mallard felt oppressed in her marriage and now, for the first time ever, she feels the possibility of constructing her own identity and identifying possibilities for her own future.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3 :Suspense, Shock, and Surprise : Narrative Devices in “The Story of an Hour”
One of the most commendable aspects of Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour" is the fact that the author is able to manipulate suspense, shock, and surprise in a tale that is extraordinarily compact. In this essay, the writer offers a close reading and detailed explication of the story, paying particular attention to the techniques that Chopin uses to build up these three emotions and tensions in the reader. Specific techniques that will be examined include characterization,
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 : Issues Surrounding Mrs. Mallard’s Death
Upon learning that her husband did not, in fact, die in a train wreck as she had been told, Mrs. Mallard has a sudden heart attack. This detail, while seemingly minor, does not escape the interest of the astute reader. In a short, compact story, the reader has understood intimately the strange excitement that Mrs. Mallard felt upon learning that her husband has died, and her death of a heart attack is a symbolic representation of the loss that is represented by the knowledge that she will not be able to live the life that she imagined for herself. In this essay, the writer will argue that no other outcome was possible for Mrs. Mallard. Having glimpsed the possibility of a life of her own, her husband’s survival necessarily caused her own death.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 The Role of the Reader in “The Story of an Hour”
“The Story of an Hour" is a piece of literature that does not allow the reader to be ambivalent or indifferent about its events. The reader will have a reaction of one extreme or another—either extreme recrimination for Mrs. Mallard or profound empathy for her. In this essay, the writer examines the role of the reader in Chopin’s story. Far from playing a spectator role, the reader of this story must become engaged and must take a moral stance.
• To Refresh : Here is a Full Plot Summary of “Story of an Hour” by Chopin •
Click here for an excellent article on “The Story of an Hour” … Also, be sure to take a look at other PaperStarter entries on various works by Kate Chopin, including The Awakening and Desiree's Baby and The Storm*
This list of important quotations from “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “Story of an Hour” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes from “The Story of an Hour” contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“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 husband’s death." (para. 1)
“She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance…." (para. 3)
“There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully." (para. 9)
“She said it over and over under the breath: ‘free, free, free!" (para. 10)
“She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her…." (para. 10)
“She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her…." (para. 11)
“But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would be hers absolutely." (para. 11)
“And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome." (para. 11)
“There would be no one to live for in those coming years. She would live for herself." (para. 12)
“When the doctors came, they said she had died of heart disease—of the joy that kills." (para. 20)
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour." http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/