Irony is a useful device for giving stories many unexpected twists and turns. In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," irony is used as an effective literary device. Situational irony is used to show the reader that what is expected to happen sometimes doesn't. Dramatic irony is used to clue the reader in on something that is happening that the characters in the story do not know about. Irony is used throughout Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" through the use of situational irony and the use of dramatic irony.
Situational irony is used in "The Story of an Hour" through Mrs. Mallard's reaction to her husband's death and the description of the settings around her at this time. Upon hearing the news of her husband's death, Mrs. Mallard "wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment" (Chopin 213). It appeared to everyone that as a result of her husband's death, Mrs. Mallard was incredibly sad. She insisted upon being alone and retreated to her room. The sort of reaction she had seems like one typical to someone who had just lost a loved one. She experienced grief and shock. However, once she is alone in her room, the reader discovers another side of her emotions. Once she calms down, she whispers "Free, free, free" (Chopin 214), and the reader realizes that she is not having a typical reaction. Instead of being saddened by the loss of her husband, Mrs. Mallard is relieved. "She saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome" (Chopin 214). Mrs. Mallard, instead of wondering who will support her in years to come, realizes that she will have no one binding her a...
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...sease - of joy that kills" (Chopin 215). While all of the characters in the story think that Mrs. Mallard died of joy, the reader of the story knows otherwise. Mrs. Mallard actually died because she was heart-broken and shocked at the reality of her husband being alive. With the news of him being alive, her plans for a free, self-sufficient future are dashed.
The use of irony is integral to the plot of "The Story of and Hour" by Kate Chopin. Situational irony is used to surprise the reader and add an interesting twist to Mrs. Mallard's discovery of her husband's death. Dramatic irony is used to give the reader insight into Mrs. Mallard's situation. The use of irony serves to make the story more interesting and the ending becomes a complete surprise to the reader.
Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." New York: Penguin Books, 1984.
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