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Article Critique: "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

Jul 5, 2019 at Literature Essays

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The current paper deals with the course of critique of the short story The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin published in 1984. The story presents the dramatic scenario and significantly tense atmosphere of the plot development. It is considered that The Story of an Hour by Chopin presents a vivid example of classic plot twist phenomenon. Furthermore, the phenomenon of a twist ending is also presented in the story. The course of critique provides an in-depth analysis of the tools the author incorporates in in order to trigger the reader’s imagination and suspend his/her attention. Moreover, the analysis of the significant aspects of plot twist actualization is presented. The aforementioned aspects of the course of analysis are supported by theoretical framework based on credible and reliable sources.

Analysis and Discussion the story "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

It is relevant to start the course of analysis with the brief definition of the concept of plot twist in the literature. The phenomenon of plot twist is regarded as unexpected turn or qualitative alteration in the course of the story that tends to provide a significantly new perspective upon the entire subject and theme of the story (Reading Strategies and Literary Elements 7). Actually, the further course of the plot development appears to be contrary to the way the reader expects. Since the currently discussed story by Chopin demonstrates a good example of the plot twist phenomenon, it is essential to analyze the issue more profoundly.

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First, it is essential to emphasize that the author provides a clear and constructive introductive sentence: “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). Actually, all the key aspects of the plot which should be introduced on the initial stage of the plot development are properly presented in the aforementioned sentence. Chopin preserves clarity and precise manner in the whole course of the plot development. Furthermore, it is relevant to discuss the overall structure of the essay. According to Pavel (94), the phenomenon of narrative should be regarded as “a totality in which all the elements coexist in an ideal synchronic structure.” It is necessary to admit that the author provides the synchronic structure and aligns every detail in order to provide a complete and objective picture.

Second, it is important to underline the significant role of the detail in terms of story presentation by the author. Chopin (1) provides the set of details and aspects of the situation that is pictured in the story. Many details may seem unnecessary or even excessive in the context of the described tragic situation and supposedly grieving wife:

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. (Chopin 1)

The aforementioned details are unlikely to be significant in the context of the death news. Hence, the author, on the one hand, seems to distract the reader’s attention to trivial and usual things, whereas, on the other hand, such a description may also serve as a peculiar hint of the upcoming plot twist.

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The appearance of the main character, Louise, is also described in details. The author motivates the reader to incorporate the imagination and picture the scene in the slightest details. Moreover, the author not only provides the sheer description of details but also accounts for the majority of them: “She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength… It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought” (Chopin 1). Hence, the reader perceives comparatively complete and controversially objective image of the character of the story as far as the opinion and observance outcomes provided by the author tend to predetermine the reader’s personal judgment. Though, at the same time it is also necessary to admit the fact that eventually, every detail becomes meaningful and significant in the context of the story development. The puzzle of the plot enigma is gradually formed into unexpected revelation, but its complete comprehension appears only in the last sentences of the whole story.

The author intently describes the details and allegedly distracts the attention from the key subject of the story in order to provide the background for further revelation. Actually, such a technique is called ‘a red herring,’ which means planned distraction of the attention of the reader from the major plot line with the purpose to produce or support tension and uncertainty within the story targeted at efficient plot twist. The reader is predisposed to alleged scene of grief and despair as a result of the tragic death of Louise’s husband, whereas her actual reaction is depicted by the word ‘free’ as the symbol of further life ahead of the main character of the story instead of presupposed mourning of the widow. Therefore, the initial tense and uncertain atmosphere is regarded in the context of the story as a relevant and constructive background for the moment Louise realizes her true feelings and further expectations.

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Third, it is important to analyze the presentation of the first revelation by the author of the story in details. Actually, the first revelation in the story except the introductory one (i.e., the death of Louise’s husband) is connected with the moment when the main character realizes the appearance and tremendous significance of the notion of freedom that has been already mentioned. The word ‘Free!’ appears to be the point of change in the whole course of the story. The whole perspective of the reader is instantly changed to the contrary one: it is not a tragedy and grief, but release and freedom for Louise. It is the starting point of a new life of the main character. Chopin (2) follows the constructive literary technique that is called detailed description. The author pictures the overall conception of the phenomenon of freedom Louise is currently experiencing vividly and constructively: the woman is thinking about the things, which will never happen in her life again as far as she has just become officially a widow. Hence, it may be concluded that those things have been the key reasons of her unhappy marriage. For instance: “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 2). Furthermore, the fact that Louise has already realized the exceptional significance of freedom leads to one more revelation concerning her marital life: actually, Louise has never loved her husband Richards. Though, the motives and preliminary aspects of the main character’s marriage are not accounted for by Chopin in the story. This area is left completely and consciously for the imagination of the reader.

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Fourth, it is crucial to properly and thoroughly analyze two final paragraphs of the story. Actually, the author continues following the technique of detailed description. Chopin (3) provides the slightest details and aspects of the scene when Louise leaves her room. Her thoughts, feelings, and moves are properly, vividly, and meaningfully described. The attributive symbols and epithets are provided by the author in order to strengthen the effect: e.g., “feverish triumph in her eyes… like a goddess of Victory” (Chopin 3). However, the story apparently has a classic twist ending that is embodied within several last sentences. The first revelation that abruptly breaks the perfect premonition of future happiness concerns the fact that Louise’s husband appears to be alive. Nevertheless, the author moves even farther in terms of twist ending incorporation. The second and the strongest revelation of the final part of the story is the death of the main character Louise. Actually, the reason of the described death is distinctly and directly addressed by Chopin. Moreover, the aforementioned reason is regarded as even more sudden and ‘unmotivated’ issue in comparison with the fact of Richards being alive: “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease – of joy that kills” (Chopin 3). In such a way, the author finishes the story.

Conclusion

Thus, the story by Chopin presents a vivid and strong sample of the plot twist phenomenon. The author incorporates the techniques of detailed description and the ‘red herring’ in order to provide a necessary effect of tension, uncertainty, and subsequent unexpected revelation upon the reader. The detailed description produces an effect of ‘presence’ for the reader. The revelation is made in the last several sentences and is identified as a twist ending. The overall structure of the plot is consistent, properly motivated, and synchronic.

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