Homework Help

Characterization in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" ....I am doing a...

user profile pic

countrygirlin... | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted November 22, 2011 at 5:05 AM via web

dislike 1 like

Characterization in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" ....

I am doing a comparison/contrast on Chopin's "Desiree's Baby", "The Story of an Hour" and De Maupassant's "The Necklace". I will be using characterization as my literary technique. Can anyone please give me ideas on how to use characterization using Mrs. Louise Mallard?

Thanks in advance!

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 28, 2012 at 11:34 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

Mrs Louise Mallard is quite a complex character, given the brevity of the story. How the reader reacts to her is an indicator of their attitudes to women and marriage. Choppin has allowed the reader to speculate on the true circumstances of Louise’s life and death, and to draw their own conclusions on her guilt or misfortune according to their reactions to her behaviour. 

We are initially told that louise withdraws to her room whenthe death of her husband is gently revealed to her. The first assumption is of a dignified woman who wishes to be alone with her grief –

When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her. 

However, it becomes evident that she needs to be alone to contemplate not the sadness of the news, but the liberating effect it will have on her-

She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!"

The reader may empathize with this view, but her reaction is made more complex when it is revealed that her husband was not a bad man, and that she had no real cause to wish him dead-

And yet she had loved him--sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!

Louise has made a contentious choice: she has chosen her independence as a prize more valuable than a stable relationship. She will be judged for this audacious assumption, and it is up to the reader to decide whether she is rewarded with perpetual freedom in her death, or punished with hell for her selfish imaginings.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes