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The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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After reading the first two paragraphs of The Story of an Hour, what additional information would you like to know?

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We are actually given a great deal of information within the first two paragraphs. We know that the protagonist -'Mrs Mallard'- is married and that she has 'heart trouble'. As this is a short story we are led to see there could be (and is) much ambiguity in this diagnosis. She is treated with 'great care' and is therefore loved by her sister. Her family are used to addressing emotive issues with reservation and solemnity -'veiled hints that revealed in half concealing'.

The Mallard family have loyal friends, as Richards' persistence in verifying Brently Mallard's 'death' illustrates.

Overall we have a clear picture of a typical middle class life which will be revealed through the story to be a veneer. It is not necessary for Chopin to tell us much more as we already have a clear view of exposition and conflict within the story.

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Ah, good questions, but very different questions. After the first two paragraphs, we know almost nothing about the main characters. We know the character's name (Mrs. Mallard), her husband's name (Brently), and the name of Mrs. Mallard's sister and a friend of her husband. We also know three other things: she has heart trouble, her sister and friend care for her, and it's been reported that her husband dies.

Put that way, that's a lot of information, and I personally don't want any more. Why? Because the reason an author would limit the information is to focus our attention as readers. That's what's important here.

However, if I had to add more information, I'd add context. Where are these people? When are they? How old are they? And so on.


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