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In the short story, “The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, the author provides two examples of the literary technique of irony to enrich and support the theme, “nothing is as it seems.” Kate Chopin uses both situational and verbal irony in different instances in the story. She uses situational irony to reveal the implausible happiness that Mrs. Mallard experiences, after seeing her husband alive, after her husband’s supposedly subsequent death. The author uses verbal irony to explicate Mrs. Mallard’s change in her state of being from being depressed and sad to being joyous and ecstatic. The first instance of verbal irony is used to explain the shift of mood of Mrs. Mallard. When she yells, “Free, Free, Free”! Mrs. Mallard, “carrie herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory”.
In the story, a friend informs Mrs. Mallard regarding the death of her husband in a tragic accident. As a result, Mrs. Mallard feels depressed and saddened by the report and heads to her room to isolate herself and to grief. Her family including Josephing are worried for her, especially her health due to her heart troubles. It is presumed by the family, including Josephine that there is an interturomoil in Mrs. Mallard because of the loss of her husband. However, in the room, there is self-reflection by Mrs. Mallard which is done by looking at nature, and trying to look for a message in the blue sky. She realizes that she and her husband had a well marriage, that was supported by love between both couples.
Nevertheless, the widow realizes that her husband was focused on his own lust and ambition and truly had no compassion towards Mrs. Mallard. Also, Mrs. Mallard had no say in the marriage and was constantly enforced by her husband to do what was best for her wife rather than allowing her to figure out things for herself. Suddenly, she experiences jubilation and a monstrous joy subsequently because she now realizes that she has new sense of freedom and can pursue a life of independence. Mrs. Mallard realizes that her husband’s passing allows her to discover a world without the oppressive backlash of her husband, and his passing displays the different attitude and mindset she has toward life, as well as to live a life that is fueled by determination to live a life that she has always wanted. This example exhibits verbal irony because the reader assumes that Mrs. Mallard would experience depression from the tragic news of her husband, but in reality she sees the bigger outcome of her husband’s death and feels rejoiced.The second and final example of dramatic irony in the story displays the shock and the ensuing death of Mrs. Mallard as a result of her presumed death husband, alive. Mrs. Mallard, “did of heart disease-of joy that kills”.
The family and the doctor believe that the cause of death for Mrs. Mallard was the overwhelming joy that was associated with seeing her husband again. However, the read can imply, based on the information gathered by the self reciton of the protagonist, that she died of shock that her husband was still alive, and that she would have to live a live with an oppressive husband, and her freedoms and independence would disappear. Mr. Mallard walks through the doors, acting as if nothing had happened, even though Louis believes that he is dead, because her friend receives a second telegram confirming this news. Mrs. Mallard did not expect that the man she loathed would be back, and this reality check really triggered upset and disgust, and her resulting death.
Kate Chopin, in the short story, “The Story of an Hour”, uses irony including dramatic and verbal irony, which is found throughout the story to explain the theme, “nothing is as it seems”, and the changes that are experienced by Mrs. Mallard such as her state of being, attitude, and personality. Mrs. Mallard changing from being depressed to ecstatic in spite of the devastating news of her husband is ironic, as well as her shocked reaction as well as her death by seeing her husband, Mr. Mallard. The author use of irony allows the reader to understand a more broader meaning of the story and the message, including the theme that is present, throughout the story.
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