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ETI 309 Introduction to Contemporary Western Literature

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1 ETI 309 Introduction to Contemporary Western Literature
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

2 Kate Chopin Born Katherine O'Flaherty, Kate Chopin ( ) was an American author of short stories and novels. She is considered a forerunner of feminist authors of the 20th century.

3 Kate Chopin Chopin began writing fiction in She wrote about life and people in Louisiana and focused her attention on love, sex, marriage, women, and independence. She published her first novel, At Fault, in 1890, when she was forty. She published two collections of short stories, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Arcadie (1897) “The Story of an Hour” was published in 1894 and is among Chopin’s most famous stories. It was originally published in Vogue on December 6, 1894 as “The Dream of an Hour”. It was later reprinted in St. Louis Life on January 5, 1895 as “The Story of an Hour.”

4 Plot The title of the short story refers to the time elapsed between the moments at which the protagonist, Louise Mallard, hears that her husband is dead and discovers that he is alive after all. The story describes the series of emotions Louise Mallard endures after hearing of the death of her husband, who was believed to have died in a railroad disaster.

5 Plot Mrs. Mallard suffers from heart problems, so her sister attempts to inform her of the horrific news in a gentle way. Mrs. Mallard locks herself in her room to immediately mourn the loss of her husband, but there she begins to feel an unexpected sense of exhilaration. At the end of the story, she learns, when her husband returns home, that he was not involved in the railroad disaster. The shock of his appearance kills Mrs. Mallard.

6 Characters Mrs. Louise Mallard: the protagonist of the story. She is introduced as being "afflicted with a heart trouble", which is why great care is taken in telling her of her husband's death. Mr. Brently Mallard: the husband of Louise Mallard. He is assumed dead until the end of the story, when it is revealed that the news of his death was a mistake. Josephine: Louise's sister. Following Richards' advice, she tells Mrs. Mallard of her husband's death. Richards: Mr. Mallard's friend and is the first person to hear of Brently's supposed death.

7 Setting and Point of View
Physical setting: Mallards’ home, Mrs. Mallard’s room Chronological setting: Late 19th century Point of View: Third Person Omniscient

8 Theme Major theme: Marriage is an oppressive institution.
Minor Theme: Life is not as it seems.

9 Symbols The heart trouble that afflicts Louise?
(a symbolic malady that represents her dissatisfaction with her marriage and unhappiness due to lack of freedom) The open window? (symbolizes the freedom and opportunities that await her after her husband's death) The patches of blue sky? (symbolize her new life) Spring time? The roomy and comfortable chair?

10 Irony Mr. Mallard is dead...but he isn’t. When someone who’s supposed to be dead walks in, that’s situational irony. Mr. Mallard dies. Mrs. Mallard cries...because she’s happy. (Would you expect that?) 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 Final remarks “The Story of an Hour” was considered controversial during the 1890s because it deals with a female protagonist who feels liberated by the news of her husband’s death. In Unveiling Kate Chopin, Emily Toth argues that Chopin “had to have her heroine die” in order to make the story publishable.

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