I have chosen the thesis that in Kate Chopin's "The Story Of An Hour" characterization works to express the theme that circumstances can numb or awaken our true feelings. How can I strongly prove...

I have chosen the thesis that in Kate Chopin's "The Story Of An Hour" characterization works to express the theme that circumstances can numb or awaken our true feelings.

How can I strongly prove and argue this point and also make three paragraphs...?

Asked on by muctar

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is, indeed, not infrequent in narratives of Kate Chopin that characters who have been repressed experience an awakening, or even a burgeoning, of emotions. So, in order to argue that there is a budding and quickening of feelings in Mrs. Mallard that passes to a quelling--even dying--of emotions, the student need but examine what transpires within the hour during which the narrative takes place. This, then, is the powerful significance of the story's title.

Interestingly, the staircase is the literary tool of the division of emotion in Mrs. Mallard. Before she mounts the staircase, having learned of her husband's accidental death, Mrs. Mallard is described as having "a heart trouble" (not "heart trouble"), words that indicate that she is unhappy, dissatisfied with her life in some way. She "would have no one follow her": she wishes to be alone. After she enters her chamber, Mrs. Mallard collapses into an armchair

...pressed down by a physical exhaustion [repression] that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.

It is apparent that Mrs. Mallard is repressed [this story was published in 1894 when the femme covert laws were in existence]; she has lost her individuality to marriage and her consequent subjugation to her husband. Now that he is gone, "[T]he delicious breath of rain [rebirth] was in the air" as she looks out the window of her bedroom, and new emotions are awakened in her. The song of the bird outdoors reaches her, the "patches of blue sky" resurrect feelings in her as "a sob came up into her throat and shook her...." as old emotions are revived. "There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully." Finally, she abandons herself to her delicious feeling of freedom. She exhales, "free, free, free!" but she says it with terror, as though in fear that something will come to remove this freedom. It is a "monstrous joy" that fills her as she contemplates her new freedom and independence; "'Free!Body and soul free!' she kept whispering."

While Mrs. Mallard is being reborn to the joie de vivre (joy of living) that she has lost, her sister-in-law outside the door to the bedroom calls "Louise open the door!" Now, she is "Louise," not "Mrs. Mallard," and her personal rebirth is complete as she drinks in "a very elixir of life through the open window." Moreover, she prays that her life will be long now when only yesterday she has feared life.

Now, triumphant in her renewed individuality, Louise opens the door, standing atop the staircase and "like a goddess of Victory," she descends the staircase. But, that deceiver of life, Fate, has brought Brentley Mallard home after all, unaware of any train wreck. Amazed, he perceives his wife, crumpled on the floor, dead from "joy that kills"--the joy that he is alive countered by the death of a new-found freedom and self-identity.

[The arrangement of three paragraphs can be made with (1) the initial condition of Mrs. Mallard, (2) her awakening of freedom and emotions connected to this autonomy, and (3) her descent down the stairs which ends with her tumbling to her death.]

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