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The Story of an Hour Analysis

Updated on June 11, 2014

In the short story, “The Story of An Hour”, Kate Chopin emphasizes the freedom that one woman in the late 1800s found in the midst of a portrayal of her husband being dead. This woman, Louise Mallard, cannot stop dreaming of freedom once she finds out that her husband is supposedly dead. This leads on to her daydreaming about all the things that she could do in the absence of her husband from her life and the beginning of her new life as a widow. The overall tone of this passage is one of freedom and this tone is heavily supported by the use of imagery of spring, detail, and diction.

The imagery of spring, conveyed in this short story, aids the overall tone of freedom in representing the spring with new and growing nature, which compares to freedom in that her freedom is new and will continue to grow, as her husband truly becomes a part of the past. This imagery becomes eminent when Louise Mallard finds out that she is going to become a widow. This occurs in the story when she falls immensely into her deeps thoughts about freedom. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life” (Chopin 1). The imagery of spring, quoted exactly as, “the new spring life”, represents her new beginning into her new life as a widow. This quote shows how she must change from a woman who always listened to her parents and her husband, to a woman who is now free and will rule herself. One major aspect of the fact that spring is a prominent element in showing the tone shift from depression to freedom is that spring comes after winter; where winter can be Louise’s life with her husband, and spring is her new life as a widow. In addition to this imagery of spring, detail about her heart trouble and other historically alluded detail are used to show this tone of freedom.

Throughout this short story, details about Louise Mallard’s heart trouble and historically alluded detail about the west coincide to create a tone shift from depression to freedom. This detail about her heart trouble is provided at the beginning of the story foreshadows her death towards the end. “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her, as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (Chopin 1). The historically alluded detail is given when she is thinking about the west. “There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window” (Chopin 1). The detail about the heart trouble gives the reader a clue that there is probably going to be something in relation to that later in the story. However, this ties into the tone shift from depression to freedom because the heart trouble acts up when she is forced to stop dreaming about freedom due to the safe arrival of Mr. Mallard. The historically alluded detail about the west is important because the west was freedom at this point in time. The west is basically is a synonym for the overall tone of freedom for this short story. However, the detail and imagery are also aided by the strong but concise diction Chopin uses.

In the short story, Chopin uses concise diction to emphasize the overall tone of freedom.

The two main words that she uses to convey this are “open” and “free” (Chopin 1). These words are used a lot while she is dreaming about her freedom. “There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair (Chopin 1).” “She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free! (Chopin 2).” The words “open” and “free” are the main words in the short story that aid to the overall tone of freedom (Chopin 1). They are the words that keep repeating in the reader’s head to remind them what the overall tone is. This is because, in combination, these two words are repeated fourteen times throughout the whole short story. The word “open” adds to the connotation that you are free to do anything (Chopin 1). The word “free” literally means you are free and you do everything according to your free will. The combination of imagery, detail, and diction are the overarching reasons for the tone of freedom.

The imagery, detail, and diction are combined in “The Story of An Hour” to create the overall tone of freedom. The imagery gives the initial essence of freedom. The detail adds to the tone shift, which occurs from the beginning to the middle of the story; the shift is from depression to freedom. And finally, the diction pushes the tone further and further into the reader’s head. These three rhetorical elements are the main composition of this short story.

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Certainly a classic. A short story I very much enjoy with all its twists.

      Great analysis.

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