Write a paper in which you address the various methodological approaches that academics have taken for Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour.”
Chopin’s novel “The Story of an Hour” employs stylistic, rhetorical, and procedural methods that various historians have described the author used in order to heighten the suspense that occurred within an hour. The structure used by the author in this story is ideally suited to the subject matter. It is a short story comprised of a variety of short paragraphs, the majority of which include little more than two or three words. 167-170 (Wan) In addition, the author manages to cover the entire life of Louise Mallard in only one hour. This begins from the time Mallard learned that her husband had died to the moment that he returns to life. This dense, short stricture that is used in this story manages to mirror the intense period that Mallard takes thinking about her new independence.
Apart from the structure, Chopin makes use of several rhetorical techniques within the story to bring out his main ideas. She makes use of repetitions in an effort to highlight the ideas that are important. A good example is when she keeps on repeating the word open throughout her narration so as to emphasize the freedom that the new life had presented to Millard following the death of her husband (Wan 167-170). The author also repeats the word free on several occasions in the story, and this is among the very few words that Mallard utters aloud throughout the story (Wan 167-170). By repeating the word, the author shows that Millard really cherished the freedom that she had found.
In addition to the author repeating words, she also repeats sentence structures and phrases in the story so as to highlight the points that are important. A good example is when Chopin wrote She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday that she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.(Hicks 73). The same phrase is seen at the end of every sentence indicating how the life of Millard greatly changed following the death of her husband. At that point, she had trembled every time she thought she could live a long life, but now things have changed and she is now praying to have a long life.
The author also makes prose during her narration of making it beautiful with the use of internal rhymes and alliterations. For examples, the author writes Josephine revealed in half concealing (Foote 86-89) at the point where she shares the news to Millard, and Brently returns to the scene composedly carrying his belongings (Foote 86-89).
The author makes use of both irony and situational irony. Situational irony is evident when the author writes life is a bitch now that just when Millard thought that she was finally free after the death of her husband, she dies afterwards and this makes the moment of liberation to be of no use to her. The irony is evident at the point when the doctors finds out that Louse death was caused by heart disease and this is equated to dying of joy that kills. (Emmert 74-85)
In this sense, it appears as though Millard shock was not out of joy over the survival of her husband but clearly the distress over losing her newfound freedom which she cherished a lot. On the other hand, Louise is seen to experience joy briefly, the joy that came after she imagined herself having full control of her own life now that she was alone and it was after the removal of that intense of joy that resulted to her death. Irony is also seen when Louse is seen saying that she was a good husband yet she celebrates the freedom she earns following his death (Cunningham 27).
The author makes use of simile and imagery in her narration and this is seen when she writes as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to so in its dreams (Berkove 74). The other case of simile is seen at the part when the author writes She carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of victory (Berkove 74) Imagery is seen when the author states that She said it over and over under the breath: free, free, free (Berkove 74)
Symbolism is also used in the story and this is evident when Mallard comes to the conclusion with the suggestive help of the environment and this symbolically associates the private awakening of Louise with how life begins in the spring season. The word mallard refers to a type of duck and in this context it has been used to symbolize freedom (Cunningham 27).
In the short story The Story of an Hour by Chopin, the author makes use of stylistic, structural and rhetorical techniques and combines them eloquently to make the story as powerful as possible regardless of how short it was and make it as interesting as possible and bring out the main themes and ideas.
Berkove, Lawrence I. “Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour’.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, edited by Janet Witalec, vol. 127, Gale, 2002.
Cunningham, Mark. “The Autonomous Female Self and the Death of Louise Mallard in Kate Chopin’s ‘Story of an Hour.’.” Short Story Criticism, edited by Jelena Krstovic, vol. 110, Gale, 2008.
Emmert, Scott D. “Naturalism and the Short Story Form in Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour’.” Scribbling Women & the Short Story Form: Approaches by American & British Women Writers, Ellen Burton Harrington, Peter Lang, 2008, pp. 74-85
Foote, Jeremy. “Speed That Kills: The Role of Technology in Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour’.” Explicator 71, no. 2 (April 2013): 85-89
Hicks, Jennifer. “An overview of The Story of an Hour.” Short Stories for Students, Gale, 2002
Wan, Xuemei. “Kate Chopin’s View on Death and Freedom in the Story of an Hour.” English Language Teaching, vol. 2, no. 4, Dec. 2009, pp. 167-170