A Story of an Hour

Aug 3, 2018 in Literature

Kate Chopin’s short story A Story of an Hour is a spectacular example of the American literature. It is a story of a woman, who felt free when she found out about her husband’s death and died after recognizing that in fact he was alive. It gives a huge resource for thinking and analyzing not only the sense of life, features of that period or morality and freedom, but it is also unusual for the literary critics.

The composition of the short story is traditional, but still there are some unusual moments. For example, the feelings which contain the main volume of the story play a significant role in dividing the plot on the parts. This is the crisis which impacts the climax and resolution of the story. The moment of suspense is the scene when the relieved Mrs. Mallard comes downstairs. This moment makes the reader anxious to know  what will happen next. The crisis with all the feelings and emotions described helps the reader to realize how she lived, what feelings she had and how she was supposed to move forward. The climax is her declaration of being free. The suspense is in the sentence when the door is going to be opened.

The first paragraph starts with a warning about the heart trouble of the main character. It is the exposition to show that this woman’s emotion can influence her seriously. The same sentence reveals a secret to the reader about the news which obviously are going to be fatal to this woman. The rising action is the paragraph when she hears the news about her husband. It leads the reader to the main part, to the crisis. The main character tries to deal with the terrible news in an unusual way. Commonly, the widow would refuse to believe and accept such a fact, but Mrs. Mallard cries and goes out to be alone. This fact serves to show that this woman does not fit the traditional vision of the widow. It prepares the reader to the following climax. The gradual change of the feelings is like the stormy weather which turns to be sunny and pleasant. She cannot stop new thoughts about freedom and her future happy life which come to her mind. The scene when she comes out of her room and walks downstairs is a symbolic walk into the new life. The reader is eager to know how the plot is going to develop further. The sentence when the author writes about the opening of the door is the transitive moment from the climax to the falling action which describes the appearance of Mr. Mallard. The resolution is the last paragraph where the doctors diagnose the cause of her death.

Kate Chopin uses imagery in her short story. Such words and compassions as, for example, “blue sky”, “delicious breath of rain” or “new spring life” serve to underline the development of the main character’s feelings and to show that the whole world is here for her. The “open window” and “comfortable, roomy chair” created a great atmosphere for the reborn. The “delicious breath of rain” is the smell of fresh feeling, of new freedom. The “distant song” which she hears is the reflection of her inner happy song. The “blue sky” or the “color that filled the air” is the delight. The “whispered word” is the evidence of her little secret. She is not going to reveal it to anyone. The “moment of illumination” is like the light at the end of the tunnel of her former life and behind “closed door” the new life is waiting for her. The “stairs” in this short story are the metaphor of her way up to the delight and down to the death.

The tone of the short story The Story of an Hour differs during the development of the plot. Firstly, it is calm and without any special features. It is just the beginning of the narrative. However, later, it changes to the sad and desperate one which suddenly becomes joyful. All the surroundings are happy for Mrs. Mallard. The end of the story, the last event in the main character’s life and the laconic explanation of her death is written in the snarky tone to reflect the shock and disappointment. Kate Chopin wrote her story in the ironical style to leave the reader much food for thought. It is obvious why Mrs. Mallard suddenly becomes joyful, but there is no explanation of her death. Whether it was her payback for being happy because of someone else’s death, or the huge shock and disappointment, or the ruined dreams and plans, each reader decides what suits best in his or her perception.

Related essays