Final Paper, Irony

The final paper is 12 pt. font, Times New Roman. Double Spaced. It should be 7-10 pages long. To write the paper choose one of the essays you have written for this class and develop it into the final paper. You MUST use one of the essays you have started here for this class.
The Short story studied:
The Story of an hour

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.
It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband’s friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of “killed.” He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.

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She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.

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.

She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.

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.

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.

She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.

There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.

Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will–as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been. When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under hte breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.

She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial. She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.

There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.

And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!

“Free! Body and soul free!” she kept whispering.

Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhold, imploring for admission. “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door–you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven’s sake open the door.”

“Go away. I am not making myself ill.” No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.

Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.

She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.

Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards’ quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills.

The essay to be elaborated into 7-10 pages:
In the short story, “The Story of an Hour”, Chopin employs a dramatic representation of the hour. This hour incorporates Mrs. Mallard’s receipt of the news of her husband’s death. The hour consists of Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts and portrayal of feelings. The story surprises the reader with the notion that the main character is elated with what is generally sad news. The common reaction following the death of a spouse is grief. Nonetheless, the reaction changed once Mrs. Mallard was alone in her room. The irony in the story is Mrs. Mallard’s joyous reaction following spousal death, while a common reaction embraces grief.

With the happy reaction, the reader is left wondering about background information. Albeit poetic, the writing style highlights repetitive words such as “open” to emphasize the freedom Mrs. Mallard feels. Another word repeated in the story is uttered by Mrs. Mallard is “free” to express the cherished freedom. Withholding detail and important information permits the reader to create own suspicions.

Chopin also repeats phrases to express the change in Mrs. Mallard’s new life. “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday that she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 19). The “long life” in each sentence has a different meaning for Mrs. Mallard. One is joyous and enjoyable, while the other is shudderingly sad and bleak. Chopin uses alliteration to express comparison in Mrs. Mallard’s life while she was married and following the news of his death.

The tone in the story was subtle; however, the ending was indeed very cruel. While the people surrounding Mrs. Mallard believe that she is sad and grieving, the truth is she was enjoying her new found freedom. Only the reader is aware of this “monstrous joy” (Chopin 12) that Mrs. Mallard experience prior to her death. What is monstrous about joy? This joy is attributed to her death.

The story’s structure is built on irony. If Mr. Mallard had arrived “too late” (Chopin 22) at the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mallard’s life would not have ended an hour later. Her life would have continued as it had been. For that last hour of her life, Mrs. Mallard experienced joy. The end of this joy led to her demise.

The story begins with the juxtaposition of the condition that would later lead to her demise. The story starts with, “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). While she was prepared for his death, she did not expect his return to life. The symbolism of heart trouble involves the trouble that Mrs. Mallard was having with her marriage and matters of the heart.

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