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

Verbal irony in "The Story of an Hour" comes right at the end when the doctor says that Mrs. Mallard died of the "joy that kills." This is an example of verbal irony as the statement can be interpreted in a different way from what it was intended to mean. Far from dying of joy, Mrs. Mallard has died from shock at seeing her husband alive. His sudden appearance has ruined all her plans for an independent life.

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At the end of "Story of an Hour," Mrs. Mallard is described as dying of the "joy that kills." The words of the doctor's statement are an example of verbal irony in that they express the exact opposite of what happens to be the truth. To be sure, the doctor isn't being ironic when he utters these words; he genuinely believes that Mrs. Mallard really did die of joy upon seeing her husband again, so this isn't the same thing as a lie. But his words are nonetheless verbally ironic in that they can be interpreted in a completely different way by the reader now that they know what Louise was planning...

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