Irony in The Story of an Hour


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     Why do bad things happen to good people? We have heard this many times with the death of a car crash or another going bankrupt. Everyone has an ironic situation happen to him or her. Alanis Moressette performed a song about irony in the world’s lives. “…It’s like meeting the man of you dreams…then meeting his beautiful wife…” yeah isn’t THAT ironic, that seems to be my best fortune. Irony reveals a different reality than what appears. We see different types of irony in the stories we read, the songs we hear, and what we do in everyday life.
     Mrs. Mallard is a woman who had seemed to live a sheltered life. She stayed with her husband, who worked on a railroad, to make ends meet. “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself.” This sentence suggests that she had lived her life to please her husband, and to be there for him waiting on him hand and foot.
After the death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard cried and broke down for a moment wondering what would come next. She sat down and thought. Throughout the story, there are descriptions of spring. She looked out the window and saw the trees budding, and the clouds opening up with the sun shining through. She saw that there was new life for her. She prayed that she would have a long life that she could live, by herself. She was free from the pressure of being a wife.
“Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own.” As she sits in the chair thinking about her life ahead of her, her sister Josephine is in the other room thinking her sister is going to lose it because she just lost her husband. This type of irony shows that the other characters in the story think she is grieving over the death. But a couple paragraphs later, we find that she is crying tears of joy for the newfound freedom that has come.
     “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long.” There is irony of this line and with the rest of the story. She stares out the window and prays that her days of life might be lengthened, so she can live for herself and have the freedom to do things.

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As the story comes to an end she comes down the stairs only to see her husband walk in the door. Then and there she drops dead, from her heart problem. “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of the joy that kills.” Was it really joy that stopped her heart? Well, we can see that her prayer of a longer life did not help much. This is the irony that shows in the end. The characters in the story had all thought that her heart problem had caused the death with the surprise that had overwhelmed her. Her death is from despair from a single-living rest of her life.


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