American Fiction: "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin | Free Essay Example

American Fiction: “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

Words: 892
Topic: Literature

Have you ever imagined that the complete human life can be depicted in a few pages? Can you remember books that describe stories of life? If you do, it is more likely that these stories are at least three hundred pages long. It is logical as far as people live many years, and it seems impossible to write about the story of life in a few pages. Nevertheless, the story written by Kate Chopin proves the contrary. Kate Chopin is an American writer whose stories are reputed for their openness and frank sexuality.

“The Story of an Hour” represents one hour from the life of the woman. The author manages to combine the constant anguish and the sudden moment of happiness and relief in a short story. This mastery is achieved with the help of various writing techniques. In the following paper, the utilization of three writing techniques such as figurative language, suspension, and stylistic syntactical devices will be evaluated.

Simile, as a figurative language tool, is an effective way to render the particular meaning and create the overall style of the story. All authors use figurative language as far as it is the most efficient technique for writing powerful and moving stories. In the story under consideration, Kate Chopin describes the situation when relatives have to inform the woman of the death of her husband. The woman is Mrs. Mallard, and she has heart trouble. The story prepares the reader for possible adverse consequences of such news. Nevertheless, it turns out that Mrs. Mallard experiences sudden feelings concerning her husband’s death. Chopin employs simile to render the idea of the story.

The author uses two similes to describe the different stages of emotional condition of Mrs. Mallard. The first example is presented in the sentence — “She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams” (Kirszner & Mandell, 2013, p. 205). This simile is used to render an exact psychological condition of Mrs. Mallard. The second simile has quite another function. Here is the example — “There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” (Kirszner & Mandell, 2013, p. 206).

This figurative comparison is used at the end of the story when Chopin reveals real feelings of Louise. One should understand that this comparison is symbolic at the same time. A goddess is a creature with immense power. A goddess is believed to have unusual powers and control over personal life. In such a way, Chopin tells readers about the feeling of personal freedom of the main character of the story.

A suspension is the second good writing technique utilized by the author. A suspension is a device that traps the reader. Thus, when the suspension is effective, one cannot stop reading. Despite the fact that story is short, Chopin employs a catchy foreshadowing technique. However, the foreshadowing is of an unusual kind. It is combined with irony. At the beginning of the story, readers are warned that Mrs. Mallard has heart trouble. The following usage of foreshadowing is in the following lines — “When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her” (Kirszner & Mandell, 2013, p. 205).

In the middle of the story, the whole paragraph is devoted to the depiction of some threat — “There was something coming to her, and she was waiting for it, fearfully… She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her” (Kirszner & Mandell, 2013, p. 205-206). The following words of the main character create the surprising ending of foreshadowing. In the beginning, it seems that Mrs. Mallard can die of such news. In the end, readers realize the ironical purpose of foreshadowing — to describe a disturbing realization of freedom.

Repetition is the third good syntactic technique used by the author. With the help of repetition, the author emphasizes the great feeling of happiness of the central character of “The Story of an Hour”. The first case of repetition demonstrates that Louise finds it difficult to believe that she is free. Repetition does not exaggerate the feeling of happiness. It emphasizes Louise’s happiness for being free from husband’s treatment. The example of repetition is “Free! Body and soul free!” (Kirszner & Mandell, 2013, p. 206). Mrs. Mallard is still afraid, but she is happy at the same time. Repetition and emphasis on happiness are erased by the notification that Louise has died from “joy that kills”.

All of the techniques used by the author are vivid and expressive. They change each other rapidly, and it makes the story active. An irony is a distinctive feature of all writing tools. Thus, there is irony in such dissimilar similes, the end of foreshadowing, and the very ending of the story. It is obvious that the author writes about the broken life of the woman in patriarchal society. Even when everything is expected to be over, Louise dies. The main reason of her death is, again, her husband, and that is the principal irony not only of the story but also of the whole life.


Kirszner, L., & Mandell, S. (2013). Compact Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. Web.