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Kate Chopin- Story of an Hour

A southern feminist authors a story of irony that arouses questions on typical heterosexual relationships of the late 19th Century

Tanner Roughton

on 30 November 2012

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Transcript of Kate Chopin- Story of an Hour

"The Story of an Hour" By Kate Chopin Chopin was born Katherine O'Flaherty on February 8th, 1850 to an aristocratic St. Louis family. After the death of her father in a railroad accident, "her great grandmother began teaching [her] at home," which contributed to her feminism and lust for women's suffrage. In 1870, O'Flaherty would marry Oscar Chopin, a rising cotton entrepreneur. She became a famous socialite while living in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her family, with 6 kids and wealth represented and ideal 19th Century American family. Chopin admitted that the life was not for her and "confessed that she found the endless social
gatherings to be tiresome." After her husband oscar died in 1882 from Yellow Fever,
she took control of their general store in the Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, "but in 1884, she returned to St. Louis to live with her mother." Chopin began her writing career with poem "If It Might Be" in 1889, published by a periodical named "America." A decade later, her most famous work, The Awakening would be published by Way and Williams. The novel received mixed reviews because of its controversial sexual and explicit themes surrounding Edna Ponteiller's lust and desire to break free of conventional maternal and spousal duties. "The Story of an Hour" Excerpts
"Free Body and soul free!"(Chopin)- represent overwhelming joy that strikes Mrs. Mallard
"But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely" (Chopin) - Mallard sees the eternity of spouse-less freedom that awaits her and is overjoyed by it.
*MOST IMPORTANT THEME* "There would be no one to live for her 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" (Chopin).

Represents Chopin's overall literary message
Based on own life
Controversial and trendsetting movement in turn of century feminism "Some of Chopin’s short stories were rejected for publication on moral grounds, for editors perceived in them an unseemly interest in female self-assertion and sexual liberation" (Ricks "The Story of an Hour" Criticism).
Ricks summarizes Chopin's litigious content, which is the reason why she is remembered. Criticism Criticism "Louise Mallard, dutiful wife and true woman, is gently told that her husband has been killed in a train accident. Her response is atypical, however, and that is the subject of the story: what Louise thinks and feels as she finds herself thrust into solitude and self-contemplation for the first time"(Papke "The Story of an Hour" Criticism).
Papke comments on parallel idea of death, especially of death in relationships and family
Death has different meaning depending on circumstances Criticism "Chopin’s handling of details illustrates how subtly she manages this controversial material. Louise Mallard’s heart disease, for example, the key to the final ironies and ambiguities, is introduced in the first sentence, like the loaded gun of melodrama" (Ewell "The Story of an Hour" Criticism).
Another quality of Chopin- subtle announcements of significant information add to irony
Similar to Guy de Maupassant's ironic endings "The Storm" Written in 1898
late work of Chopin
not published until 1969 due to graphic sexual nature for its time
coastal setting reflects Chopin's Gulf area home for the majority of her life
names such as Bobinôt and Calixta reflect the French Creole atmosphere that appears in most of her works, influenced by her habitation of New Orleans
Sensuous and forbidden nature of sexual interactions, especially adultery, common in Chopin's literature
Similar issues of the obligations of monogamy, as in "The story of an Hour" Plot/Art The plot of "The Story of an Hour" serves as an example of an idea that Chopin developed long before its time. She questioned the 19th Century American patriarchal society when no one else did. Even to present day, women's rights and roles in family are in question. She stood up for the suppressed American woman, mother, and wife. Her background living in the deep South and being part of a "picture-perfect" American family, majorly contribute to the plots and themes of her works. One must understand the milieu of her writing to understand the relevance of her topics. Not only are Kate Chopin's words and ideas artistic, they are moving and influential. The plot serves the purpose of sparking questions to the individual about marriage and the institution of American family. Literary Devices "And yet she had loved him--sometimes"(Chopin). This quote adds irony to the situation. A wife is expected to love her husband. It makes the reader question the status of their marriage and personal relationship.
"She did not stop to ask if it was a monstrous joy that held her" (Chopin). The juxtaposition of "monstrous" and "joy" give a sinister connotation. The fact that she did not stop to question her new found joy, shows that she truly was happy that her husband had died and that her chains of marriage had been shattered.
"When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease--of the joy that kills" (Chopin). The paradox of "joy" and "kills" emphasizes the idea of Mallard's utter joy over the death of her husband. She is so thrilled over her freedom that it causes her afflicted heart to give out. Literary Devices Analysis The use of literary devices in writing do not only add interest to the piece, but also unify the plot. For example, a theme may be ironic in a plot. That theme repeated throughout the story, as well as the use of similar irony or ironic circumstances ties all of the components of the plot together. However, the identifying of literary devices is not enough to obtain an understanding of the plot. One must realize how the author utilizes the literary devices to enhance their work and how the literary devices effect each other and the reader's emotion as they are read. Literature Literature and pieces of writing have served as some of the most influential and event causing components throughout human history. Literature can motivate people, change the way they think, or harness and unify and entire population. For example, The Communist Manifesto, one single pamphlet, had the ability to inspire revolutions, unite factions, and create an entirely new system of government. Written by Karl Marx in 1848, it provides an agreement, a convention, that the workers of the world come together to overthrow their bourgeois oppressors. It changed the way people see government, people think about economics, and ultimately changed the course of modern world history. Integrity Integrity is described as "The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness" by Merriam-Webster. Integrity is not an important quality to have when making change in the real world. Kate Chopin would not have been considered a person of integrity in her era because of her graphic and controversial themes. If it were not for her racy themes and content, she would have never been a significant player in the feminist movement, and never would have been remembered as one of the most important American authors.Integrity in theory is a great quality to have. Integrity in the real world and in writing, will often not leave a mark on history. Many of the worlds most influential figures were not considered people of integrity, if they had confined themselves to total honesty and "strong moral principles," their goals and missions would have never succeeded. The End.
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