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Art Of Irony in ‘The Story of An Hour’


In The Story of An Hour, Kate Chopin uses a range of literary devices varying from 3rd individual narrative, juxtaposition and paradox to strongly highlight the dramatic procedure of grievance, and alternately liberation, that Mrs. Mallard experiences under the impression that her spouse has passed away. In the start of the short story, Chopin attempts to extend inklings to the reader of what is later to come in the story through the assertion that “Mrs. Mallard was affected with a heart trouble,” and that the other characters, her sister Josephine particularly, would “break to her as gently as possible the news of her hubby’s death.” It might be perceived that Chopin’s intents were to foreshadow Mrs. Mallard having a cardiac arrest in action to the distressing news if it were not provided delicately. Chopin illustrates Mrs. Mallard as a fragile being whom would be shattered both physically and mentally when given the news of her husband’s death.

Chopin then toys along with this foreseeable reaction explaining Mrs. Mallard regarding have “wept at once, with unexpected, wild abandonment,” comparable to how a “kid who has actually cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.” The use of such kinetic word structure and the comparison of Mrs. Mallard to that of a sobbing child depicts her as a mentally wiped out, weak female– entirely devastated, the precise response Chopin had foreshadowed early on. Chopin then executes juxtaposition and irony when explaining Mrs. Mallard’s sensations subsequent of her devastation.

Up up until this point in the story, all of Mrs. Mallard’s actions are seemingly natural. The reader would believe it sensible for a woman to be mentally rattled at the news of her spouse’s death, nevertheless Chopin twists this seemingly foreseeable story on its head by now exposing a sense of liberation in Mrs. Mallard. To start this shift in state of mind, Chopin explains Mrs. Mallard gazing at the sky not in “a glance of reflection,” nevertheless a look which “showed a suspension of smart thought,” and this explained “suspension of smart thought” puts a pause on Mrs. Mallard’s sorry thoughts and works as an entrance into her newly found freedom.

Chopin further describes the favorable ascension of Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts through the expressions “her bosom rose and fell tumultuously,” while whispering, “totally free, totally free, totally free,” “over and over under her breath.” Through this description, Chopin seems to reinvent Mrs. Mallard in a nearly wicked method as she is finding peace within her spouse’s death. A reader might associate Mrs. Mallard’s “tumultuous” chest motions and repeating of a single word with the clich?, wicked, methodical laugh of an atrocious character that increases in richness at the expenditure of another (the laugh then commensurate to Mrs. Mallard’s happiness at the cost of her hubby’s life). Chopin has recreated Mrs. Mallard in a manner that makes her seemingly self-centered in that she has actually attained satisfaction through the death of her other half when the orthodox reaction must be a sense of remorse. Chopin therefore develops irony in two ways: one through the juxtaposition of how Mrs. Mallard must feel and how she really feels and the other being how Mrs. Mallard achieves psychological uplift through a naturally wrong (according to societal expectation) reaction to the circumstance.

Referring back to the prospective foreshadowing in the start of story, Chopin seems to produce a full circle result at the end of the story. The very last line of Chopin’s short story proclaims that “she (Mrs. Mallard) had actually died of heart disease– of the pleasure that eliminates.” This ending works as a cycle ending as it connects Chopin’s beginning declaration, “Mrs. Mallard was affected with a heart trouble,” to the end of the story: Mrs. Mallard’s death through heart failure. The paradox then amounts from the cause of Mrs. Mallard’s cardiac arrest. Chopin has shown the story so that the reader knows Mrs. Mallard’s cardiac arrest is from the unfavorable shock of understanding her hubby lives while the characters in the story believe Mrs. Mallard’s heart failure is from positive shock, for this reason “the joy that kills.” This irony and juxtaposition of what really occurred and what is viewed to have occurred (by the characters in the story) is made totally possible through Chopin’s option of third person narration.

Through 3rd individual narrative, Chopin exposes both sides of the situation: Mrs. Mallard’s internal thoughts, her feelings of liberation and liberty, and the external thoughts of the other characters, the sensations that Mrs. Mallard is desolate. By divulging the juxtaposing views to the reader, Chopin develops an ironic dichotomy. Through this ironic dichotomy, the reader gleans the unadulterated truth of Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to her other half’s death therefore developing an individual relationship between the reader and the character of Mrs. Mallard, all of which Chopin utilizes as a technique to successfully show Mrs. Mallard’s psychological advancement throughout the story.

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