Kate Chopin: the Story through Setting

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The time period, season, location, and surroundings of a character reveal a great deal about them. Kate Chopin's "The Story of An Hour" is an excellent example of how setting affects the reader's perception of the story. There is an enormous amount of symbolism expressed through the element of setting in this short story. So well, in fact, that words are hardly necessary to descriptively tell the story of Mrs. Mallard's hour of freedom. Analyzing the setting for "The Story of An Hour" will give a more complete understanding of the story itself. There are many individual parts that, when explained and pieced together, will both justify Mrs. Mallard's attitude and actions toward her husband's death and provide a visual expression of her steadily changing feelings throughout the story.

The text never explicitly tells what kind of marriage Mr. and Mrs. Mallard shared, but several things that are present or, in one case, not present make it very clear. The easily drawn conclusion is that Mrs. Mallard did not marry her husband for love and felt very oppressed in her marriage. These conjectures are confirmed in the setting of the story. Richards received his information concerning the "railroad disaster" at the newspaper office by way of telegram, which indicates that the story takes place before the use of telephones. Later in the story, it is learned that there is an "open square before her house" and her room contains "a comfortable, roomy armchair." These facts about her house imply that she and her husband were wealthy. The time period and financial status, which Mrs. Mallard was in, speak volumes of the kind of social pressure she was likely under. During the turn of the century, wealthy women married based on social status ...

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...e her private thoughts and put on a façade to fit the expectations of society and be the grieving widow as was proper.

Kate Chopin made use of every aspect of setting in "The Story of an Hour." Her use of setting permitted the reader to piece together an entire life story of the characters from a two page short story using his own interpretation of the veiled hints she left through description. Each of the different elements of setting, including time, location, social context, and environment, convey all the information that Ms. Chopin chose not to explicitly write. Analyzation of each element leads to a clearer picture of Mrs. Mallard's circumstances and actions, and a fuller understanding of the story itself.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed.

Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford, 2005. 15-16.

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