The story of an hour, 1894, is a short story by Kate Chopin. The story captures the emotions ofMrs. Mallard who suffers from heart ailments after the bad news of her husband demise from her sister who carefully tells her of the bad news in a gentle manner(Bloom 100). The story takes a funny turn when rather than grieving her loss she rather feels a sense of relief of finally being free from the “bondage” of her husband in the end when Mrs. Mallard realizes at the end that her husband is alive and dies as a result of the shock. My favorite story is ‘the story of an hour’ by Kate Chopin because of its view on the institution of marriage. I will analyze the story by looking at its plot, setting, irony, imagery, tone, symbolism, point of view, and its theme.
The short story takes a good developing plot because it seems to carry the entire essential constituents that makes a good plot which are; original situation, conflict, complication climax, suspense and conclusion. The original situation is that Mrs. Mallard has a weak heart has desirable effect because it determines how other characters in the book relate to her. She has to be handled in a gentle manner so as not to escalate her heart problem further (Harrington 89). This creates a sense of dramatic tension. The plot develops through the conflict where bad news that could prove tragic has to be carefully delivered to her. Climax is observed where Mrs. Mallard appears to be free after struggling with her feelings regarding her loss and lets the feeling of relief get better of her. However the suspense and conclusion is seen where Mr. Mallard walks in and Mrs. Mallard dies of shock.
The setting of The Story of An Hour is at the Mallards residence that takes a short time frame of about an hour to unfold although much isn’t told about the Mallard’s home apart from the fact that the house has stairs (Bishop 140). Mrs. Mallard appears “grounded” to her own house because of her heart ailment. The story involves the characters getting in the house and no one getting out as the story builds through the plot and the story further unfolds. In fact Mrs. Mallard after hearing the news go further deep into the house in the confines of her room to weep.
The short story comprises of four characters Mrs. Louise Mallard, Mr. Brently Mallard, Josephine and Richards. Mrs. Louise Mallard appears to be the main character of the story and as the protagonist as well. Mrs. Mallard is sensitive because of her heart condition but a sadist also because she rejoices at the news of her husband rather than grieve (Chopin 18). Mr. Mallard is absent from most part of the story apart when he returns suddenly. Josephine is Louise sister who tells the bad news to Mrs. Mallard her sister, showing her caring side as lady. Richards is Mr. Mallard’s friend who gets the news of Mr. Ballard’s friend.
The setting and plot takes the third person approach in telling the story. The third person is omniscient. Chopin is able to tell a story from a neutral ground that cannot be seen as subjective especially favoring the protagonist Mrs. Mallard point of view (Bishop 62). The third person point of view help to create a sense of suspense because at the beginning death of Mr. Mallard is known to the reader but not to Mrs. Mallard who gets the news later on in the story plot development.
The plot development has some touch of irony to it. Because of her ailing heart condition, Mrs. Mallard finds comfort in her house by deciding to stay within its confine as a protection from the cruel outside world that has taken the life of her husband (Harrington 89). However, Mrs. Mallard dies in the same house that appeared safe from the shock of her husband who showed up unexpected. It is ironical that while pretending to protect her from the cruel outside world that had consumed her husband, her husband’s arrival is what aids to causing her death.
Imagery is effectively used in the story. Death is portrayed to be in the Mallard residence waiting to devour at the slightest chance.
The tone of the story rather takes an ironical approach because Mrs. Ballard is seen to be full of tears her tears are not of sadness but rather joy of her freedom. Marriage is a blissful arrangement but Mrs. Mallard appears to be happy to be out of its “bondage” (Chopin 23).
Symbolism is used when Mrs. Mallard heart condition could be used to portray love trouble that seemed to be affecting the marriage of the Mallards hence the rejoicing when Mrs. Mallard is happy when her husband “dies”.
The theme of the story is the negative view of marriage as shown by Mrs. Mallard’s reaction. Marriage appears to be an institution that had held Mrs. Mallard captive and in agony. Marriage should be based on love and understanding. Any sign of the deficiency of love and understanding leads to a sense of bondage and un-fulfillment. “Monstrous joy” is what she felt when rejoicing took over her after learning g of her husband’s demise (Harrington 90). The story’s strongest part is when Josephine breaks the news to heart troubled Mrs. Mallard in a manner not to elicit any further damage. The weakest part is when Mrs. Ballard dies out of shock.
Bishop, Margaret. Single Scene Short Stories. New York: Gibbs Smith, 2007.
Bloom, Harold. Kate Chopin. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour: And Other Stories. New York: Pinball Publishing, 2011.
Harrington, Ellen Burton. Scribbling Women & the Short Story Form: Approaches by American & British Women Writers. New York: Peter Lang, 2008.