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Friday, April 1, 2011

Short Story Analysis: The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin

I. THE STORY OF AN HOUR                     
by Kate Chopin

Mrs. Mallard is told by her sister Josephine that Mr. Mallard’s name is amongst those who were in a railroad accident. Upon hearing of her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard cries at once in Josephine’s arms. Then Mrs. Mallard goes to her room after that storm of grief has passed. However, when she is alone in her room, her grief is replaced by a feeling of relief and happiness because at last, she will be free for the rest of her life. And though she has loved him sometimes, she frequently has not loved him. She is already thinking of the long days ahead that will just be for her alone. But the happiness and excitement go “ppfftt” when Mr. Mallard comes home: he was far from the accident’s scene. The story closes with Mrs. Mallard’s death, which is of “the joy that kills” according to the doctors.


1.   Mrs. Louise Mallard - Developing and Round
2.   Josephine – Static and Flat
3.   Richards – Static and Flat
4.   Mr. Brently Mallard – Static and Flat


a)  Introduction

This short story opens with the explanation that Mrs. Mallard has a heart problem.

b)  Rising Action

Because of such heart condition, her sister Josephine must break the news of Mr. Mallard’s death in the most acceptable manner.

c)  Climax

Even though Mrs. Mallard breaks into tears and grief, these are overpowered by happiness and relief when she is already alone in her room.

 d) Falling action

Mrs. Mallard’s excitement is shattered when she sees her husband alive.

 e)   Denouement

      Mrs. Mallard dies from a heart attack upon seeing her husband alive.


a)  place – in Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s home

b)  time- sometime in the 19th century

c)  weather conditions - fine

d)  social conditions- good

e)  mood or atmosphere – Before breaking the tragic news to Mrs. Mallard, the atmosphere is tense. After she finds out, the mood becomes sad, then happy, and sad again in the end.


The Point of View used in this short story is the Omniscient Limited - The author tells the story in third person (using pronouns they, she, he, it, etc).  We know only what the character knows and what the author allows him/her to tell us. We can see the thoughts and feelings of characters if the author chooses to reveal them to us.


In my opinion, the literary devices used in this story are Foreshadowing, Symbolism and Imagery. For Foreshadowing, the start of the story already tells the readers that Mrs. Mallard has a heart problem, and this is what causes her death in the end. For Symbolism, the wide outdoors seen by Mrs. Mallard upon opening her bedroom window symbolizes her freedom whilst the smaller bedroom symbolizes what her heart feels, cramped and seemingly in prison. Finally, for Imagery, the beautiful scene outside her window - the trees, the sparrows, the blue sky, etc.- all show wonderful images that  go along with her happiness and excitement.


For me, the theme Sometimes, or oftentimes, to that matter, people cannot have what they want and also Be content on what you are can be applied to this story.


The conflict here is Internal, that of Mrs. Mallard vs. Herself, as she struggles with herself, with her own soul, ideas of right or wrong, physical limitations, choices, etc. --- ARV

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