In "The Story of an Hour," the author uses some figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, paradox, etc.  What are their effects?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator says of Louise Mallard, "She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance." This line employs a simile, a comparison of two unalike things that uses like or as. The narrator compares Louise's response to the news of her husband's death to the response other women have had to similar news, stating that they are not at all the same. Unlike them, Mrs. Mallard did not experience a "paralyzed inability to accept its significance"; no, she understands the significance of her widowhood fairly immediately.

A metaphor is a comparison of two unalike things where one thing is said to be something else; it does not use like or as. The narrator says that Mrs. Mallard cried wildly and "When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone." Her tearful fit is compared to a storm as it sounds, perhaps, like it was violent and productive of many tears (just like a storm would produce a lot of rain).

In describing the appearance and feeling of the nature outside Mrs. Mallard's window, the narrator says that "The delicious breath of rain was in the air." Rain does not really possess breath; this is an example of personification, where the writer gives human attributes to something that is not human. It's as if the rain and air possess life, just as Louise feels herself to have a new life now that she will no longer have to live as a married woman. It helps to indicate how she is feeling.

Near the end of the story, Louise comes down the stairs, carrying "herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory." This is another simile, comparing Louise's attitude to Nike, the goddess of Victory.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The purpose of the text is largely to direct us to the irony of the dénouement of the story where Louise Mallard is struck down by "the joy that kills" – a joy which is interpreted by the remaining characters in the story as relief in finding her husband is alive. The reader, however, sees that she is killed by shock or grief at the realization that the belief she is "free, free, free!" after the death of her husband is revealed to be untrue.

 Chopin uses other techniques through the story to direct us to this conclusion. We are told that the news of her husband’s death is met with "a storm of grief" which does, as with all storms, pass.

We are greeted with the paradox of Louise grieving alone in her room with the scenes of "new spring life" beyond her window. We see that the use of pathetic fallacy here indicates her inner feelings as she distinguishes between the feelings she should have after the death of her husband, and the emotions she actually has as she considers her position as a widow.

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The Story of an Hour

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