The Story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin

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“The Story of an Hour” is a stark display of female rejection of the norms of society. This work, by Kate Chopin, begins with a woman going through the stages of grief for her husband’s death. For the wife, Louise Mallard, this was an awakening of a new life. This new life is cut short as the information that led her to believe this news turns our false. Kate Chopin reveals that even the desire for love is trumped by the need for freedom and independence, through her use of precise diction and syntax, and symbolism. With respect to word choice, Chopin foreshadows the idea that it was possible that Mrs. Mallard’s husband was not dead at all. From the start she describes the news as “possible” (79). To further show this, she chooses to use the word killed in quotation marks (79). It is possible that this was just to set off the title of the news, but the foreshadowing it implies is far too great to disregard. It is this foreshadowing that gives the reader knowledge of the ending, which ties the idea that Mrs. Mallard, while sad, would rather see her freedom than the life of her husband. Diction is also very important in showing that Mrs. Mallard was seeing life in a brand new way. When leaving the main room where the news of her husband’s death was given, Louise Mallard would not allow anyone to follow her to the upper floor (79). While she has not yet grasped that the freedom she seeks can be attained through the events taking place, this is her first move toward independence. When being called back down to the bottom room by her sister she resists once more. Her freedom is now manifesting itself as strength, in this case, to resist the orders of those who impose them against her. To show her newly found independence, Chopin desc... ... middle of paper ... .... Now that she is strong, independent, and free, she is allowed to have a name. Through her use of diction and symbolism, Chopin was able to show the struggle of women against the backdrop of a patriarchal society. Her precise use of words allows her to convey the foreshadowing that helps the reader see past what Mrs. Mallard can see and understand the ending fully. This also allows her to give insight into how bright she saw that this new life could be. The symbolism helps to show the reader, deeply, the emotions that Mrs. Mallard was feeling and the norms pushed on women during the time. These literary devices come together to reveal the theme of the story. It is more important to strive to be free than to be chained to love. Works Cited Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." Introduction to Literature. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. 79-81. Print.
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