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“The Story of an Hour” By Kate Chopin.

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Presentation on theme: "“The Story of an Hour” By Kate Chopin."— Presentation transcript:

1 “The Story of an Hour” By Kate Chopin

2 Historical Context –Feminist literature
Feminist criticism is concerned with "...the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women" (Tyson) This school of theory looks at how aspects of our culture are inherently patriarchal (male dominated)

3 Old vs. New Historians Old Historicism looks at the time in which a piece was written to determine how it was interpreted by its contemporaries. New Historicism demonstrates how a literary work reflects ideas and attitudes of the time in which it was written (DiYanni 1565). So why examine the time period in which a story was written? Every literary work is written in a specific time Time periods change how people think Time periods change views of the world Every time period has specific social values Social values influence how a piece is written Social values influence intellectual beliefs Example: Shakespeare Shakespeare wrote in a tumultuous time when some in power believed the theater to be an evil influence

4 The Victorian Age ( ) Queen Victoria was “the Icon” of this period Her reign was the longest in British History England grew to become the greatest nation on earth “The sun never sets on England”.

5 What are Victorian Values?
There were “Separate Spheres” Woman in the private sphere of the home and hearth Man in the public sphere of business, politics and sociability This was the model of marital stability & domestic virtue…. The Victorian era, , is characterized as the Domestic Age A woman's place was in the home Domesticity and motherhood were considered by society to be a sufficient emotional fulfillment for females

6 Social Reform Victorian feminism emerged as a potent political force.
1832: The First Reform Act granted the vote to almost all male members of middle-class. 1833: The Factory Act regulated child labour in factories. 1834: Poor Law Amendment established a system of workhouses for poor people. Victorian feminism emerged as a potent political force. ***Women’s Suffrage did not happen until 1918***

7 Public Reception Book reviewers were certainly upset by Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening in We have published reviews showing that. There is, however--so far as we can tell--no printed evidence that the "The Story of an Hour" set off a scandal among readers. Nevertheless, it is true that, as Emily Toth says in Unveiling Kate Chopin, "Kate Chopin had to disguise reality. She had to have her heroine die. A story in which an unhappy wife is suddenly widowed, becomes rich, and lives happily ever after would have been much too radical, far too threatening in the 1890s. There were limits to what editors would publish, and what audiences would accept.“ (

8 Symbolism in “The Story of an Hour”
Heart Troubles - The heart is traditionally a symbol of an individual's emotional core. The first sentence of "The Story of an Hour" informs us that Mrs. Mallard has heart troubles. Her physical heart problems symbolize her emotional heart problems as it relates to marriage. The Heart (part 2) - The heart of any society is the family and a marriage between a man and a woman is the essential foundation of the family. Mrs. Mallard's heart troubles may represent the peril in which the late 19th century institution of marriage finds itself on account of the inequalities therein. Mrs. Mallard - Keeping in mind the above examples of an ailing heart, Mrs. Mallard could be said to represent women of her time period who were unable to find happiness in marriage and motherhood, not because it's not found there, but because their freedoms within marriage are restricted. * A Mallard is a type of duck- think “sitting duck” (

9 Symbolism continued… Spring Time - In her room, Mrs, Mallard "could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life." Her heart, too, is all aquiver with a new life and a new hope. Patches of Blue Sky - There were also "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." Light was breaking through what previously had been cover. It's no accident that this light appears in the west, the end of the day. Previously, Mrs. Mallard longed for her life to end, thinking there would be nothing but restrictions. Now that end seems full of hope. The Chair - Immediately after the news of her husband's death, Mrs. Mallard races upstairs into her room: "there stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul." The armchair symbolizes rest from her oppressive life and freedom from societal expectations. (

10 Irony: Dramatic Irony Josephine is worried that Mrs. Mallard has locked herself in her room and is making herself ill. She's actually in there contemplating how wonderful her life's going to be. That's both situational and dramatic irony. Mrs. Mallard dies from the shock of seeing her husband. The doctors say she died from "the joy that kills." We know Mrs. Mallard is no where near full of joy. That's dramatic irony.

11 Irony: Situational Irony
Mr. Mallard is dead...but he isn't. Richards needs slapped around a bit, going around telling people that Mr. Mallard is dead when he isn't. When someone who's supposed to be dead walks in, that's situational irony. Mr. Mallard lives and Mrs. Mallard dies. That's situational irony. Mr. Mallard dies. Mrs. Mallard cries...because she's happy. You wouldn't expect that.

12 Use of Irony Authors may use irony to: create humor
add an element of surprise to a story develop a story’s theme—its central message. When irony is used in this way, the theme of the work may concern a discrepancy between surface appearances and inner truths.

13 Themes from Irony How does the story’s central theme relate to a discrepancy between perception and reality? How would you state the theme of this story? What comment about the human condition is Chopin making? Reread the paragraph beginning, “There would be no one to live for.…” What comment on the human condition does Chopin express in that paragraph? How does understanding this view increase your understanding of both Mrs. Mallard’s conflict and the story’s theme?

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