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Eternal Life Essays

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Eternal Life

1 Is there life after death? In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard “is drinking the elixir of life through her open window.” It is possible that this very elixir provides Mrs. Mallard with her freedom through eternal life. Through Chopin’s use of characterization, conflict, and symbols, the author reveals the theme that like Mrs. Mallard, some people can achieve freedom through eternal life. [Does "eternal life" here mean life after death, or, as in "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," life without death? The basic problem with this essay is that it overlooks the primary point of the story -- Louise glimpses freedom as a result of the death of her husband, and then loses that freedom with the realization that he is still alive. It is a story of "an hour" because Louise has only an hour of freedom. Although the writer of this essay makes a valiant attempt to support the thesis, there really is not enough religious (or moral) symbolism, etc. to support it.]

2 Chopin’s physical and emotional characterization of Louise suggests the woman is experiencing a spiritual encounter that includes the possibility of eternal life. Early in the story, Chopin uses characterization to describe Mrs. Mallard’s physical condition, noting that she has “heart trouble” (12); this description foreshadows her death, [i.e. not eternal life] which will take place later in the store [story]. [Isn't it also symbolic?] The author illustrates that Mrs. Mallard is physically exhausted by writing that when she hears the news of her husband’s supposed death, she sinks into a “comfortable, roomy armchair . . . quite motionless with her head thrown back” (12). Chopin goes on to write that Louise experiences “physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her a soul” (12), which allows the reader to see that something is taking place within her both physically and emotionally. [This paragraph demosntrates that "something is taking place," but not that it relates to eternal life.]

3 The author also describes Mrs. Mallard as feeling “young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength” (12)-- the strength of God. [What suggests that it is the strength of God, and not just a personal strength of her own?] From the statement “now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously” (12), the reader can sens...


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...new freedom?] Her “moment of illumination” (the true light) signifies her soul is now saved. She even breathes a “quick prayer” (13), which is symbolic of her quest for a divine intervention and repentance[.] (s[S]he is totally and completely engulfed with the presence of God). [No, what was she praying for? A long (not eternal) life.] One of Mrs. Mallard’s last actions is to rise (resurrection action) “at length and [open] the door” (the gateway to her salvation). In addition, the author provides the reader with the words “joy that kills” (13), the joy is symbolic of her freedom and “that kills” is symbolic of her eternal life. [CS -1] [Why would "that kills" be symbolic of "eternal life"?] These words provide the reader with an understanding that a human being must experience death to receive eternal life. Louise has found her freedom through eternal life.

9 Louise’s figurative elixir of life is the foreshadowing [?] that Chopin uses in the story to express Louise’s freedom through eternal life. In regards to past readings, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, [Title] the elixir is both literally and symbolically a recipe for immortality or eternal life.


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