Hope and Despair in The Story of An Hour, Eveline, and Miss Brill

Hope and Despair in The Story of An Hour, Eveline, and Miss Brill

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It is undeniable that human life is filled with change. While hope and despair are antonyms, one must exist in order for the other to occur; a transition between the two is inevitable. This simple change in emotions can help give a human face to a fictitious character. Perhaps this is the reason many authors choose to use the inseparable themes of hope and despair in their literary works. Hope, accompanied by despair, is a central theme in the short stories "The Story of An Hour," "Eveline," and "Miss Brill."

The wife of Brently Mallard, a character in "The Story of An Hour," displays hope and despair. As she sits by a window in her room, thinking about her husband's death, an unexpected feeling comes over her. A feeling of freedom overwhelms her. "She said it over and over under her breath: `free, free, free!'" She envisions the moment she will see his dead body. She knows she will cry then; "but she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely." Her hopes for a happier future are demolished when her husband walks through the door, and she realizes that he is very much alive. Mrs. Mallard collapses. "When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease." However, despair is seemingly the fatal disease.

Another short story that illustrates hope and despair is "Eveline." Due to an abusive father and a dysfunctional family, Eveline is overcome with despair. Eveline is hopeful that a new life as a wife will be far more fulfilling. In her mind, married women are respected. "Then she would be married- she, Eveline. People would treat her with respect then." She sees her plans to marry Frank as an "escape" from her futile life at home. "Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too." Eveline's fear of change begins to intensify the closer she gets to the boat. She starts feeling as though Frank will smother her; "he would drown her." As Eveline lets her fears take over, her hope is turned into despair.

Yet another literary character embodied by hope and despair is the title character of "Miss Brill." Miss Brill is an old woman that spends the majority of her time in a hallucinogenic state of mind. Her hope in life is that she is wanted, maybe even needed.

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In order to fulfill this desire, she pretends that a play is performed at the park each week. Miss Brill imagines the play will fall apart without her. "No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there; she was part of the performance after all." Her hope is replaced with despair when she overhears a young couple; "why does she come here at all- who wants her?" Instead of coping with the agony of shattered dreams, Miss Brill envisions that this pain of rejection actually belongs to her fur. "But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying." Perhaps casting her despair upon a boxed fur will help restore her faith.

In conclusion, the themes of hope and despair are found in the short stories "The Story of An Hour," "Eveline," and "Miss Brill." Each character mentioned is filled with hope and despair. lIn these three short stories, as well as many other literary works, the themes of hope and despair are intertwined to give unreal characters a more realistic life. Hope and despair truly are inseparable themes.

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