In Kate Chopin's short story "The Story of an Hour," there is
much irony. The first irony detected is in the way that Louise
reacts to the news of the death of her husband, Brently Mallard.
Before Louise's reaction is revealed, Chopin alludes to how the
widow feels by describing the world according to her perception of
it after the "horrible" news.
Louise is said to "not hear the story as many women have heard
the same." Rather, she accepts it and goes to her room to be
alone. Now the reader starts to see the world through Louise's
eyes, a world full of new and pure life.
In her room, Louise sinks into a comfortable chair and looks
out her window. Immediately the image of comfort seems to strike a
odd note. One reading this story should question the use of this
word " comfortable" and why Louise is not beating the furniture
instead. Next, the newly widowed women is looking out of the
window and sees spring and all the new life it brings.
The descriptions used now are as far away from death as
possible. "The delicios breath of rain...the notes of a distant
song...countless sparrows were twittering...patches of blue
sky...." All these are beautiful images of life , the reader is
quite confused by this most unusual foreshadowing until Louise's
reaction is explained.
The widow whispers "Free, free, free!" Louise realizes that
her husband had loved her, but she goes on to explain that as men
and women often inhibit eachother, even if it is done with the best
of intentions, they exert their own wills upon eachother. She
realized that although at times she had loved him, she has regained
her freedom, a state of beeing that all of G-d's creatures strive
Although this reaction is completely unexpected, the reader
quickly accepts it because of Louise's adequate explanation. She
grows excited and begins to fantasize about living her life for
herself. With this realization, she wishes that "life might be
long," and she feels like a "goddess of Victory" as she walks down
the stairs. This is an eerie forshadowing for an even more
The reader has just accepted Louise's reaction to her
husband's death, when the most unexpected happens; her husband is
actually alive and he enters the room shocking everyone, and Louise
especially, as she is shocked to death. The irony continues,
though, because the doctors say she died of joy, when the reader
knows that she actually died because she had a glimps of freedom
and could not go back to living under her husband's will again.
In the title, the "story" refers to that of Louise's life.
She lived in the true sense of the word, with the will and freedom
to live for only one hour.
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