Personal Interpretation: The Story of an Hour
Written by Kate Chopin, the story is about things happened in an hour. The story took place in the late nineteenth century. At that time, women were men’s possession in marriage. They lived for their husband. In this story, Mr. Mallard was on the head of the list “killed” and Mrs. Mallard went away to her room after knowing her husband’s death. She wept at first but then realized she was free for the rest of her life and she would not be anyone’s possession. After a while, Mrs. Mallard opened the door, walked out happily with her sister, thinking that she will finally own her life. Surprisingly, the news of Mr. Mallard dead was not true and he appeared at the door. Mrs. Mallard faint and died when she saw her husband and the doctor said it was because she was too happy. This story is about women in marriage and it mainly shows the self-realization of women’s value by depicting her reaction after her husband’s death.
The author utilizes several rhetoric devices in this short story to convey her point and the one that gave me deep impression is when Mrs. Mallard started to realized her bright future without her husband and her attitude towards life started to change. In paragraph 17, the author said that “Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.” (para.17)
This paragraph shows how she is anticipating her future life without her husband. The author used simple sentences to express her meaning. The punctuation the author used was barely normal as well. This moment is very important to the whole story.
In this paragraph, Mrs. Mallard is thinking about her bright future and the author makes a comparison between what she thinks about life now and what she thinks when her husband was alive to show her happiness. The author stated that Mrs. Mallard is now praying for a long life. However, it was just yesterday that she felt scared thinking about her life with her husband might be long. The contrast the author drew here clearly shows Mrs. Mallard’s negative feelings towards here husband and let the readers know that Mrs. Mallard is starting to have expectations of her life on her own. This contrast conveys a clear meaning of the self-realization of Mrs. Mallard since she started to think that she is able to live happily on her own.
The diction used in this paragraph is very interesting. The word “riot” clearly shows the huge amount of emotions Mrs. Mallard received after her husband died. The word “breathe” means say something with quite intensity. This word here shows that Mrs. Mallard are praying in a very low voice because she didn’t want anybody to hear her joy. Usually, a wife would want to die when their husband dies but Mrs. Mallard “breathed” her prayer to live a long life in order to not let anybody else to know her abnormal thought. Mrs. Mallard knows this thought is abnormal and she is subverting what a woman of the time was “supposed” to do or feel. This story challenges the norms in nineteenth century. The word “shudder” means tremble obviously, typically as a result of fear or repugnance. By using the word here, we can clearly see that Mrs. Mallard is afraid of and strongly dislike her life with her husband so she shuddered when she thought about her future. “ shudder” conveys information about how Mrs. Mallard use to view her life and her husband.
This paragraph also illustrates the motif of the short story. The whole passage is about how Mrs. Mallard finds her own value and learns to live for herself. In the article, the author describes in several places how much hope and happiness Mrs. Mallard got after her husband’s death. This paragraph is one of the places. Before, the author describes her emotions by her words “free, free, free”, her facial expressions and the physical changes of her body like pulse. This paragraph describes what she thinks in her mind that contradicts that she thinks before. After this paragraph, the author also describes at the end of the passage her expression and movements when she opened the door and went out with her sister.
In conclusion, the author employs lots of rhetoric devices to show the reader the self-realization of Mrs. Mallard and made the readers to actually feel Mrs. Mallard and her emotions. This is a very short story but it conveys so much information only by depicting the mental activity and facial expression of Mrs. Mallard. Although the setting of this story is far from our time, readers should realize the burden and control marriage used to have on women and avoid repeating the same mistake in contemporary society.
Chopin, Kate . “The Story of an Hour.” Vogue 1894 Print.