What is the language and style in Chopin's The Story of an Hour?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kate Chopin employs foreshadowing with irony and symbolism as she leads the writer to the surprise ending of her "Story of an Hour."  Like the plan of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Chopin's story directs the reader to the conclusion with a singleness of purpose. 

For one thing, Chopin's suggestions of Mrs. Mallard's condition, both physically and psychologically direct the action.  For instance, the reader is alerted immediately that Mrs. Mallard has a bad heart.  Then, ironically, Chopin arranges for the surprise ending by mentioning that Mr. Mallard has been killed, but his friend Richard has sent a telegram to ascertain if such an accident has, indeed, occurred. 

While she is in her room, the feelings of Mrs. Mallard are symbolized by that which she views from her bedroom window:  her tears are mirrored by the rain; her rebirth as a whole person is indicated by the rebirth of life in the burgeoning Spring outdoors.

However, because the short story is narrated with a very detached third-person limited point of view, the reader is not privy to more than the feelings of Louis Mallard.  But, when Mrs. Mallard goes downstairs, the reader is removed from these feelings.  In this way, Chopin "manipulates" the point of view to underscore the theme of the repressed Victorian woman. 

As Mrs. Mallard descends the stairs, the irony comes into play. The incongruity between what the readers have witnessed--the entry of Mr. Mallard even when he has been confirmed as dead--and what Mrs. Mallard believes adds a couple of twists to the conclusion.  For, the reader now realizes that Mrs. Mallard's "heart condition" is an ironic phrase.  It is not her medical/physical condition, but, rather, her spiritual condition that causes her "heart condition."  And, the final line, "she died from a joy that kills," is also ironic.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The  style is minimalistic as it does not bring in any hyperbolic no overly thick descriptions nor specifications. Similarly, the language is appropriately fitting and truly of its time for naming her disease as "joy that kills" rather than "shock" and it is also a fact to mention that both the style  and language combined helped explain the horrid situation in which the main character lived: A lot of psychological stuff was going on while the language in the story continued to hide it under nice words. Yet, as readers, we can feel her steaming inside, and then nearly go insane when the news come that he really is not dead. So, in smaller verbage, the minimalist style is the literary technique used to demonstrate the true gravity of her situation.

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The Story of an Hour

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