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In her story “The Story of an Hour,” Kate Chopin (1894) uses imagery and descriptive detail to contrast the rich possibilities for which Mrs. Mallard yearns, given the drab reality of her everyday life. Chopin utilizes explicit words to provide the reader a background on Mrs. Mallard’s position. Chopin uses “She wept at once,” to describe Mrs. Mallard’s emotional reaction once she was told her husband had been “Killed.” Mrs. Mallard cared for and loved her husband; being married was the only way of life that she knew.
Mrs. Mallard had heart trouble, which made it imperative to break the news of her husband’s death, gently. Thus is why Josephine, Mrs. Mallard’s sister, “told her in broken sentences, veiled hints that revealed in half concealing,” (Chopin, 1894, para. 2). Once she was told the horrible news, Mrs. Mallard was alone in front of her “open window.” She “sank into a comfortable armchair,” (Chopin, 1894, para. 4). She was exhausted. Chopin describes Mrs. Mallard’s experience sitting there; she saw the tops of trees; rain in the air; a peddler was crying his wares; the notes of a distant song reached her; and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves. (Chopin, 1894, para. 5) The descriptions involve the senses of seeing and hearing, which allow the reader to imagine what Mrs. Mallard’s experience was.
Chopin (1894) “fearfully, she waited for something to come to her.” As she waited, she felt it coming, but didn’t know what it was. She tried to get up, but wasn’t able. Then she realized that she was “free, free, free!” Mrs. Mallard was in fear, but then become joyous. “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death,” (Chopin, 1894, para. 13). She knew that she would be able to live free, without anyone next her. This was something she had never experienced. Chopin (1894) writes, “She loved him, sometimes; but often she did not.”
As Mrs. Mallard was rejoicing, Josephine was concerned about her sister’s health. Josephine was watching Mrs. Mallard through the “keyhole.” Asking her to open the door, she declined, stating that she was fine. “She was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window,” (Chopin, 1894, para. 18). Being that Josephine was concerned, she got up and opened the door as if she were a “goddess of Victory.”
Chopin (1894) describes how Mrs.
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