The Story Of An Hour By Kate Chopin

1450 words - 6 pages

Kate Chopin provides her reader with an enormous amount of information in just a few short pages through her short story, “The Story of an Hour.” The protagonist, Louise Mallard, realizes the many faults in romantic relationships and marriages in her epiphany. “Great care [is] taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (Chopin 168). Little do Josephine and Richards know, the news will have a profoundly positive effect on Louise rather than a negative one. “When she abandoned herself,” Mrs. Mallard opened her mind to a new way of life. The word usage shows that the protagonist experienced a significant change. This life wouldn’t be compromised by her partner’s will, which will enable her to live for herself during the years to come. Her epiphany occurs exactly when she frees herself to new ideas and the prospect of individuality rather than dependency. This gives her a new sense of assertiveness and ability to live her life according to her own will. This epiphany is established by Chopin’s use of foreshadowing, Mrs. Mallard’s acquisition of new information, and the changes that this information sparks.
The first element Chopin uses to indicate an epiphany is foreshadowing. Throughout the first page, she employs foreshadowing and hopeful language to indicate a coming epiphany. Specifically, the optimistic language she uses leads us to believe that this epiphany will be a positive one. Foreshadowing is a powerful component supports Mrs. Mallard’s realization. Thoughts and actions of all of the characters help the audience predict Mrs. Mallard’s coming epiphany. Upon hearing that her husband has passed away, Mrs. Mallard “[weeps] at once, with sudden, wild abandonment” (Chopin 169). Chopin uses variations on the word abandon several times in the story, which forms an expectation of departure from the established norm. Shortly after her hysterics subsided, however, a positive and hopeful tone takes over. References are made to “new spring life” and “the delicious breath of rain” (Chopin 169). These word choices indicate to the audience that a turning point is near. Spring, water, and freshness are associated with new beginnings and optimism. The specific wording creates an expectation of positive change and new horizons in Mrs. Mallard’s life. Chopin begins directing the audience’s attention to the coming epiphany upon stating “It [is] not a glance of reflection, but [indicates] a suspension of intelligent thought” (Chopin 169). Attention is brought to Louise’s mental state as it calms from hysterics. Chopin continues to foreshadow Mrs. Mallard’s epiphany, describing physical changes that occur before the emotional and mental shift. Even the epiphany is described in a physical sense, creeping slowly and reaching out towards the protagonist (Chopin 169). The protagonist’s chest starts to rise and fall rapidly, and something draws near to possess her (Chopin 169). The changes are being described in a physical...

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