Literary Analysis: Story of an Hour
The Story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin represents a negative view of marriage by presenting the reader with a woman who is clearly overjoyed that her husband has died. The narrator of this story relates what she observes in simple prose, but when her emotions are described, the words are powerful. This suggests that Louis has a deep inner-life that is not connected to the outside world of her husband or friends and the fact that she cloisters herself in her room to discover her feelings is important. The world outside of her own bedroom is only minimally described, but the world inside of her mind is lively and well described by the narrator. The window outside of her room is alive and vibrant like her mind, while everything about her physically is cloistered.
While the mere use of certain words is indicative of this inner-world of detail and life, there are also several instances of ironic or playful uses of certain phrases or images to convey Louise’s happiness in “The Story of an Hour” and the ultimate message that marriage is constraining. In many ways, the fact that she dies at the end of heart disease is symbolic of the “disease” of marriage. Much like an affliction, she cannot feel free unless her husband is no longer present. The fact that it affects her heart as opposed to any other portion of her body shows that her misery from this symbolic disease stems from something inside of her, not anything external. For instance, in one of the important quotes from “The Story of an Hour” it is clear that her husband loved her when his face is described as “the face that had never looked saved with love upon her.” Her own feelings of love in return are also minimally described and it is clear that she does not share his sentiments. The narrator relates in one of the quotes from this story, “And yet she loved him—sometimes. Often she did not.” This kind of simple and direct language is used only to describe the things Louise is not emotional about, thus the language would indicate that she did not have any strong feelings for her husband.
When Louise’s emotions are described regarding something she is thrilled about, the language becomes lively and rich with color and vibrant images. This stands in sharp contrast to the sections in which she seems indifferent or emotionally unattached. For instance, in the above citation which begins with the very simple statement in one of the quotes from “Story of an Hour”, “And yet she loved him—sometimes. Often she did not” which demonstrates emotional passivity, but as the short paragraph continues and her true emotions come forward, the language comes alive along with her character. The clipped line above is followed by, “What did it matter! What could love count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!” It is important to notice not only the language comes to life with the use of words like “mystery,” “possession,” and “impulse” but the very phrase changing.
This happens again a few paragraphs before this instance when she is speaking in one of the quotes about the strain and crippling “disease” of marriage. When her emotions become overwhelming, so do the sentences and language. “There would be no one to live for in those coming years; she would live for herself” begins the paragraph. There are no lively words, just a matter of fact, unemotional statement without the slightest hint of sadness. In fact, it is almost as though she suddenly realizes again that she doesn’t need to be sad. Marriage is an unhappy institution for her, she comes to life again through language and sentence…