In short, irony can be defined as “saying one thing and meaning another” (Wheeler). There are several different forms of irony, three of which are prevalent throughout “The Story of an Hour.” First, there is situational irony, which is defined as “a trope in which accidental events occur that seem oddly appropriate” (Wheeler). Secondly, there is verbal irony. Verbal irony is “a trope in which a speaker makes a statement in which its actual meaning differs sharply from the meaning that the words ostensibly express” (Wheeler). Lastly, but certainly not the least these, is dramatic irony, which is where “the reader knows something about present or future circumstances that the character does not know” (Wheeler).
Situational irony, as defined above, is shown when Mr. Mallard is thought to be dead, when in reality he is very much alive. In the beginning of the story, the audience becomes aware of Mr. Bently Mallard’s apparent death from a rail road accident. Richards, Bently’s friend, “had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message”(Chopin 2). Richards hastily makes the judgment that Mr. Mallard does indeed perish in the rail...
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...he door. We, as an audience, know that to be further from the truth. Joy would be the last word to describe the reason of Mrs. Mallard’s death. Horror and repulsion would be closer to the term the doctors should have used to describe her death “Horror that kills.” What she thought was the beginning of her life turned out to be the complete opposite.
Kate Chopin can be said to be a queen of irony in her literary works. She captures the essence of “The Story of an Hour” through her use of situational, verbal, and dramatic irony. The hour surrounding Mrs. Mallard’s death is ironic in itself. She feels alive for the first time after hearing of her husband’s death in the railroad disaster. In the end, however, Mrs. Mallard is the one who dies while Mr. Mallard continues living. In conclusion, the irony is perhaps the tie that binds the entire “Story of an Hour” together.
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