The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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What is the verbal irony in "The Story of an Hour"?

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There are several examples of verbal irony in "The Story of an Hour" which contribute to the climactic ending.

One example is found in the very first sentence:

Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.

Mrs. Mallard's "heart trouble" is implied to be a medical condition as the story opens. Her health therefore seems a thing of fragility that must be guarded. As the story progresses, however, the reader learns that Mrs. Mallard has another kind of heart trouble:

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!

Mrs. Mallard doesn't truly love her husband; that is her real "heart trouble." Instead, she has lived with him out of a sense of duty and is fairly thrilled with the prospect of living...

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