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

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The core situational irony in "The Story of an Hour" relies on the historical context of the society in which Mrs. Mallard lives. The story depicts her societal place in the late 1800s, a time when women were afforded precious few opportunities for self-fulfillment and were expected to take great satisfaction in taking care of their husbands and families.

Before she receives the news, Mrs. Mallard "only yesterday...had thought with a shudder that life might be long." She is weary of the monotony of caring for others, particularly her husband. She longs for more.

Thus, the situational irony is that she is expected to deeply grieve the loss of her husband but is instead filled with joy, and "she did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her." This (mistaken) turn of events has allowed her a freedom she longs for, and she welcomes both his death and the change.

Furthering the situational irony, Josephine comes to the door, believing that Mrs. Mallard is making...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 937 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 19, 2019