Examining the Irony Found in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

Essay by michelle-gonzalezUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, December 2006

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"He won the lottery and died the next day," sings Alanis Morissette in her song titled Ironic. Irony happens when a person expects one outcome and is then surprised by an extremely different outcome. Alanis Morissette may have sung a song about ironic events twisted by fate however, Kate Chopin had made literary use of the powers of irony.

Kate Chopin was a short story writer, who made significant use of irony in most of her work. Much of her short stories start out leading the reader in certain direction, only to take the reader to a different ending then he or she expected. The stories leave the reader baffled, wondering whether to laugh at the astonishing irony or to cry at the horrible cruel turn of events. A magnificent example of Chopin's love of irony is in the short story The Story of an Hour.

"The Story of an Hour" starts out by informing the reader that the main character Mrs.

Mallard's husband had died in a train wreck. Mrs. Mallard receives the bad news from her sister Josephine. Josephine breaks the news to her gently, as not to disturb Mrs. Mallard already feeble heart. Mrs. Mallard bursts into tears, runs upstairs into her bedroom, and locks the door. The reader feels her sorrow over the loss of her husband and questions how a woman so upset can ever regain her strength.

As the day presses on, Mrs. Mallard stays locked inside her room staring out the window. As she gazes out into the world, a feeling, which at first she cannot identify, begins to flood through her. She felt it coming from the sky, reaching towards her through the sounds she heard, the scents she smelled, and the colors that filled the air. She suddenly realizes...