An Analysis Of Symbolism And Irony In Three Short Stories

831 words - 3 pages

The usage of symbolism and irony to communicate theme is an imperative tool in short stories. These eloquent writing techniques clarify and embellish the reader’s interpretations while also keeping the story interesting and slightly mysterious. The authors of the short stories “August Heat,” “The Story of an Hour,” and “Through the Tunnel” all weave carefully constructed webs of these two techniques to assist in revealing theme to the reader.
To begin, author William Fryer Harvey spins an intricate tale of the prominence of flaws in times of stress through his work “August Heat.” The entire story is stitched together with irony and symbolism, all of which point toward the untimely death of the main character, Withencroft. The story begins with Withencroft making a sketch, which he refers to as his best, of a massive man standing in court with a look of utter defeat etched upon his face. Ironically, the man in this prided sketch turns out to be Withencroft’s murderer. After the completion of his sketch, Withencroft stumbles upon a small shop, which he refers to as an “oasis” in the oppressive heat. Within this so-called “oasis” resides Atkinson, the very man portrayed in Withencroft’s drawing. Atkinson immediately waves a symbolic flag of future danger and bloodshed through his red handkerchief. Continuing this practice of rich symbolism is the description of the tombstone that Atkinson is carving, which oddly bears Withencroft’s name. The stone is flawed, just as Atkinson is, with a hidden crack in the back. The crack will never withstand the cold, just as Atkinson will be driven to madness by the stifling heat. There is even symbolism in the way that Atkinson waters his dying flowers, because even the things he tries so hard to save are perishing. All of these examples help to guide the reader to the realization of the theme, which is that people’s flaws become more apparent in adverse situations, such as Atkinson’s anger becoming overpowering in the heat.
Turning ever so slightly from “August Heat” is Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” with its underlying premise of stolen opportunity. When Mrs. Mallard receives the news of her husband’s supposed “death,” she does not react in the typical way. Instead, she comes to the joyful realization that she is now “free” from the binding ties of her marriage. Preceding this acknowledgement is a long and flowing list of symbolism. The description of the “open square” and all of the new...

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