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The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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Irony in "The Story of an Hour"

Summary:

The irony in "The Story of an Hour" lies in the protagonist, Louise Mallard's reaction to her husband's death. Initially, she feels sorrow, but soon she experiences a sense of relief and freedom, imagining a life of independence. The ultimate irony is that her husband is actually alive, and upon seeing him, Louise dies from the shock, highlighting the unexpected twists in her emotions and fate.

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

There are two main symbols in The Story of an Hour.  The first is the heart trouble:  Louise's physical problems with her heart are symbolic of the unhappiness she feels in her marriage and her lack of freedom.

The second symbol is that of the open window.  It represents the freedoms that she can enjoy at her husband's death.  When she turns away from the window, she is turning away from her freedom and hope.

The irony is that her heart problems end up causing her death.  The doctors say she died of joy upon seeing her husband again, but in reality she is dying of sadness because she has lost the freedom that she was so close to getting.

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What are examples of verbal, situational, and dramatic irony in "The Story of an Hour"?

Chopin employs dramatic irony throughout “The Story of an Hour” since the reader is aware of what the characters are not. For instance, we see that Louise Mallard comes to the realization that she is a free woman now that she is a widow. In fact, we suspect it even before Louise recognizes it. We know that she looks forward to a new independent life of doing whatever she wants and not having to submit to her husband’s will in the patriarchal society. However, her sister is unaware of Louise’s epiphany and thinks she is overcome by her grief.

There are also examples of situational irony when outcomes are different than what we might expect in a typical situation. For example, we might expect a widow to grieve when she thinks about her life without her husband. Mrs. Mallard does cry uncontrollably when she first hears the news; however, she undergoes a change once she realizes what this means for her future. No one would expect her feelings of relief and excitement about the future.

In addition, Chopin uses verbal irony. The narrator states that the doctor’s explanation is that Louise died from “joy that kills.” The narrator does not really mean that Louise was so happy to see her husband that her heart gave out from joy. The narrator actually means the opposite of that statement. Louise died from shock. Her heart gave out because she realized that her days of oppression were not over and her hopes of independence were a dream. It is interesting to note that the phrase “joy that kills” can exemplify all three types of irony. The reader is aware of Louise’s true feelings, and we would not expect happiness to kill.

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What are examples of verbal, situational, and dramatic irony in "The Story of an Hour"?

Irony hinges on a reversal of expectations. Situational irony occurs when what happens is the opposite of what one might naturally expect. In "The Story of an Hour," Louise Mallard's two different reactions regarding her husband are ironic. In almost all cases, a wife would react with grief and deep sorrow at the news that her husband died in a train accident. However, in Louise's case, she goes into her bedroom and, once alone, experiences "joy" and welcomes her new freedom. At the end of the story, a reversal of expectation occurs as well. Rather than being thrilled and relieved to learn her husband is still alive, Louise is so shocked that she dies of a heart attack. This, too, is ironic.

Verbal irony occurs when the words that are spoken or written bear the opposite meaning of their literal denotation. Often the irony of the words is not revealed immediately, but upon finishing the story, the reader realizes that words that seemed to mean one thing actually turn out to mean the opposite. This applies to Louise's assertion to Josephine that "I am not making myself ill." Within a few paragraphs, Louise has died "of the joy that kills." When she said she was not making herself ill, she was reveling in the joy of her anticipated freedom as a widow. The sudden shock of not being able to experience that joy caused her heart attack, so in a sense, Louise was making herself ill—mortally ill. The reader understands the irony of Louise's claim when the story ends.

Dramatic irony occurs when the reader knows something that a character does not. At the end of the story, when the doctors come and report the cause of death as "the joy that kills," the reader knows that the doctors assumed something about Louise's attitude that was not true. The final proclamation by the doctors is dramatic irony.

Kate Chopin fills her little story with a great deal of irony, including situational, verbal, and dramatic irony. 

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What are examples of verbal, situational, and dramatic irony in "The Story of an Hour"?

Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is a masterpiece of the literary technique of irony; even the title is ironic in that so much that is unexpected happens in the life of Louise Mallard in just sixty minutes. Here are other examples of the three types of irony:

  • Situational Irony 

Since irony always involves an incongruity, this type of irony is one in which the expectation and the fulfillment are not what is expected. Perhaps, the most salient example of situational irony is in the turn of events in the hour that suggest that Bently Mallard is dead and Mrs. Louise Mallard has fully come alive. For, incongruously the narrative abruptly changes and it is Bently Mallard who yet lives while Mrs. Mallard, who with "triumph in her eyes" as she descends the stairs from her room in which she has "breathed a quick prayer that life might be long"; perceives her husband as he comes through the door, and with a "piercing cry" abruptly dies.

  • Verbal irony

This type of irony involves an incongruity of words. That is, verbal irony is a statement by the writer which means the opposite of what it appears to mean. While Chopin's story has several instances of verbal irony, one example is Chopin's use of "a heart trouble" at the beginning of the narrative. It seems that the phrase denotes a physical ailment, but Chopin does not intend for "heart" to denote the organ of the body. Instead, the reader later discerns, "heart" connotes the figurative heart; that is, the soul. Mrs. Mallard suffers from repression, a trouble of the soul.

  • Dramatic irony

Dramatic irony involves differing perceptions by the reader than by a character in the story. For instance, when Mrs. Mallard will not allow Josephine to help her upstairs, it seems that she is so grief-stricken that she wishes to be alone. However, unbeknownst to the character Josephine, the reader learns that Louise Mallard wishes to be alone so that she can fully comprehend her freedom from repression as a Victorian wife:

She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless....
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully....She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching...
When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped...."free, free, free!"

Instead of grieving as Josephine believes, Louise Mallard rejoices in her new freedom. Since only the reader is privy to this knowlege and the character Josephine and, later, her husband Bently do not know her feelings, dramatic irony exists.

Indeed, it is this masterful use of irony in her very short story that gives Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" such powerful implications.

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When is dramatic, situational, verbal and/or cosmic irony used in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"?

Irony comes into play at the end of Chopin's short story.  Throughout the story we've heard how Mrs. Mallard's husband died in a train accident.  She cries then goes to her room to collect herself, or so her friends think.  While she is in her room, she thinks about her life and what it will be like now that she no longer has to "bend" to someone else.  She thinks about her life and how she is now "Free! Free! Free." While hugging herself with the excitement that life now offers her, her sister, Josephine, pleads to be let in.  Josephine knows her sister has "heart trouble" and is worried that she will cry herself sick.  The dramatic irony occurs when we, the audience, know that this is not the case.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.

When Mrs. Mallard finally emerges and glides down the stairs, the door opens.  Who can it be? Mr. Mallard, her husband! He is very much alive and was actually nowhere near the accident.  Josephine gasps as her sister collapses to the ground.  The doctors decide that it was her heart; the weakened Mrs. Mallard's heart was too happy to see her husband, and so it gave out.  We know the truth.  She was not happy that her husband was alive, and so she died instantly.  Quite the opposite of what one would expect to see when they find out their husband is alive.

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What is the theme and irony of the characters in "The Story of an Hour"?

It seems to me that the theme of the story is that marriage is (or at least was in America at that time) an institution that is not good for women.  The story seems to be saying that marriage traps women and keeps them from having a life that is under their own control.

The major irony that I see in the story reinforces this point.  We would expect Mrs. Mallard to be sad about her husband, but she is not.  At the end of the story there is irony as well.  The doctors (probably men) say that she died of joy.  But we know she died of sadness.

I am not really sure if this covers your question, but that is the basic theme and irony in the story.

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

In "The Story of an Hour," Kate Chopin invokes both situational and dramatic irony. In fact, the entire plot can be understood as being grounded in situational irony. After all, if one's wife or husband were to die in a terrible accident, one would expect the natural reaction to be one of grief. However, while Louise Mallard does initially react with profound grief, ultimately she takes from this moment a sense of personal liberation. She takes joy in the personal agency that widowhood gives her.

This situational irony is actually deepened, however, once you factor in her health condition (an element reflected in the story's very first sentence). The characters within this story are concerned that giving Mrs. Mallard news of her husband's death will be too much for her heart, and this concern is actually validated within the story itself, if not in the way they expect. The characters fear that her grief will prove too much for her, but it is actually in that intense outpouring of joy and exuberation that readers can see hints of oncoming disaster. Consider how Kate Chopin writes:

Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body. She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. ("The Story of an Hour")

Consider how the specificities of this description, invoking the imagery of her racing heart and coursing blood, can be read within the context of the heart condition which Chopin establishes in the very beginning of the story. One can easily see danger signs in this kind of imagery, reading these words as hinting at a potential cardiovascular collapse. When seen from this context, then her turbulent emotions did prove dangerous to her health, only it was not grief that did the damage...

The story ends with Louise, shocked to discover her husband still alive, dying of a heart attack. At this point, Kate Chopin invokes dramatic irony, when the doctors suggest that she died "of the joy that kills." The characters within the story believe that she was overjoyed when her husband returned still alive, and those strong emotions proved too much for her heart. Only readers are aware of the far more complicated reality that the story presents.

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

Dramatic irony in Kate Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour” is shown in the belief by other characters that Mrs. Mallard died from joy upon seeing her husband Brently alive after believing he perished in a train accident. Through an omniscient narrator, however, the reader knows that Mrs. Mallard was upset and horrified by his return. Unbeknownst to other characters, behind closed doors, Mrs. Mallard was not mourning the death of her husband but relishing her liberation from him.

At the beginning of the story, her sister Josephine and Brently’s friend Richards treat her with kid gloves; they go to great lengths to break the tragic news to her with painstaking gentleness. When Josephine tells her about the accident “in broken sentences,” Mrs. Mallard

wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.

To her concerned sister and Richards, Mrs. Mallard seems “wild” with grief. Her “abandonment,” however, is a loss of control due not to anguish but to joy. Her “storm of grief” quickly passes and seems to be a reaction more of shock and confusion than of sadness and despair. Only when she leaves the other characters and secludes herself in another room does Mrs. Mallard reveal her true feelings.

Away from witnesses, she celebrates her emancipation from an oppressive marriage and overbearing husband. She softly chants “free, free, free!” On one side of the door, she whispers, "Free! Body and soul free!" On the other side of the door, Josephine mistakenly believes Mrs. Mallard is making herself ill when in fact she is “drinking in a very elixir of life.”

Therefore, doctors mistakenly attribute her collapse to her weak heart. They believe that the joy of seeing her supposedly beloved dead husband actually alive was too great a shock for her heart to handle, that she died “of the joy that kills.” Readers know, however, that the shock that causes Mrs. Mallard’s fatal heart attack is not from joy but from dismay at her realization that Brently is alive. Her imagined new life as a free and autonomous widow is dead.

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

Irony is created when there is a discrepancy between what we expect to happen and what actually happens. So, one major irony of this story is created when Louise Mallard reacts with joy to news of her loving husband's death. At first, she bursts into tears "with sudden, wild abandonment" and a "storm of grief." It is, therefore, even more of a surprise when Louise goes alone to her room and says to herself, "free, free, free!" So, she is happy about the loss of this husband who, apparently, "never looked save with love upon her"?! The simple answer is yes. She is not rejoicing in his death necessarily but in her own newfound freedom, but she is rejoicing, and this unexpected response to such seemingly tragic news is ironic.

Louise's sister, Josephine, kneels outside her door, concerned for Louise's health, as she fears that her sister is overwhelmed by grief. We, of course, know this to be untrue: if Louise is overwhelmed by anything, it is her happiness that "There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself." Because we, the readers, know more than Josephine, a character, dramatic irony is created.

Again, watching Louise descend the steps with "a feverish triumph in her eyes" as she walks "like a goddess of Victory" adds to the earlier irony of her initial reaction, because we would not expect a woman whose loving husband has just been killed to feel triumphant or victorious. It is also ironic that Brently Mallard walks through his front door as though nothing has happened because, all along, we expect him to be dead (since his friend verified the news by a "second telegram" before coming to break it to Louise). We, and they, expect him to be dead, not unlocking his front door.

Finally, the cause of Louise's death as proclaimed by the doctors, that she died of "joy that kills," is another example of dramatic irony. We know that her joy didn't kill her; instead, it was likely her disappointment that all the freedom she thought would be hers was suddenly snatched away when she realized her husband was still alive.

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

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 to do with her life when she wrongly thought her husband was dead.

The doctor's words express something contrary to the truth, even if they're absolutely sincere. This is what makes them ironic. Louise hasn't died of joy at all; far from it. Instead, she's died of a heart attack brought on by shock at the sudden realization that all her plans now lie in ruins. With her husband dead and buried, she was planning to lead an independent life of her own. But now that it turns out that he was alive all along, Louise has no future to look forward to, and the shock kills her.

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

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 life on her own terms.

Another example is found when Mrs. Mallard takes a moment to herself to consider the news of her husband's death. A surge of emotions begins to rise up in her, and she is overcome with one thought:

She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!"

The verbal irony is that Mrs. Mallard proclaims her freedom from a marriage that she has come to view as a burdensome obligation; the reality is that her husband is very much alive, and the only freedom that she will find will be through her own death.

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

Verbal irony is when a character says something but means something else. Taken literally, the character seems to mean one thing. Actually, they mean to communicate something completely different than what their words literally mean. Verbal irony is different than other kinds of irony because the speaker uses this double meaning intentionally.

In "The Story of An Hour," the first example of verbal irony happens when Josephine is kneeling outside her sister's door, begging her to come out so she can comfort her. 

Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. "Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door—you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the door. 

"Go away. I am not making myself ill." No, she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window. 

When Louise says, "I am not making myself ill," she actually means that she has never felt better. She realizes that her sister will not understand the double meaning of her words, but she says it anyway. Her relief and joy at her husband's death evoked a profound sense of freedom inside her. When she says, "I am not making myself ill," it is a statement to herself. In fact, it is possible that what had really been making her ill was her unhappy marriage. At the beginning of the short story, we are told that Louise has heart trouble. 

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.

If her heart trouble was actually caused by the stress of an unhappy marriage, then Louise's statement "I am not making myself ill" is even more ironic, since the relief she feels after she is told of her husband's death is actually making her well. 

The next example of verbal irony happens after Brently Mallard returns, alive and well. At the prospect of being married to this man of "powerful will" again, Louise dies from shock and despair. 

When the doctors arrived they said she had died of heart disease—of the joy that kills.

The doctors said she had died of "the joy that kills." They thought her joy was the joy of seeing that her husband was actually alive. In fact, her reaction to his appearance was the opposite. This is an example of verbal irony because what the doctors said was actually true, but not in the way they thought. Louise died because she had been exposed to a pure, living joy that she would never have experienced if her husband had simply come home that day like usual. It was not her day-to-day unhappiness that killed her. Experiencing freedom and happiness for the span of one hour and then realizing that she was still trapped resulted in her death.

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How is the ending ironic in the short story "The Story of an Hour"?

The denouement of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is ironic in that the death of Mrs. Mallard has been inevitable, not because she has a bad heart, but because she has had "a heart trouble," a repressed heart that in its elation cannot return itself to its former state of subjugation without damage--"a heart trouble."  Her joy, finally released, is what causes her death as she cannot go back to her life as the wife of Bently Mallard.

A victim of the institution of Victorian life, Mrs. Mallard has been under the "powerful will bending hers in that persistence" of her culture.  While she has felt love for her husband, she is like the prisoner who is released, but once outside, is told that he must return and serve more time. This would seem like a death sentence.

Kate Chopin's employment of irony is absolutely superb.  The opening line is ironic--"a heart trouble" that Mrs. Mallard has is a spiritual, not a physical problem; the "joy that kills" is also ironic, for the release of her imprisoned grief cannot be repressed again without fatal results because the anguish is too much for her heart.

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How is the ending ironic in the short story "The Story of an Hour"?

I think the ending is ironic because it is so far removed from what we would expect to have happen.  In addition, the last sentence is full of irony because it is the opposite of what has really happened.

Up until the point that we see Brently Mallard, we assume he is dead and that Louise is going to be able to embark on this new life that she has been envisioning.  We assume that her life is at a beginning.  But instead, we find out that her new life is coming to an end both literally and figuratively.

The last sentence is ironic because of how badly the people have misunderstood what is going on.  They believe that Louise has died of happiness, but we know she has died of sorrow and disappointment.

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How is the ending ironic in the short story "The Story of an Hour"?

An example of dramatic irony is the ending of “The Story of an Hour.” When Mrs. Mallard realizes that her husband Brently is alive after believing he was killed in a train accident, she collapses. Other characters—like her sister Josephine, Brently’s friend Richards, and the doctors—think that she died “of joy that kills.” The reader knows, however, that the other characters mistakenly blame her death on supposedly elated shock of seeing that her husband alive and well. Earlier in the story, behind closed doors and unbeknownst to others, Mrs. Mallard celebrates her freedom from an oppressive marriage.

When she thinks that her overbearing husband is dead, she feels a “monstrous joy” and realizes that she is “Free! Body and soul free!” Instead of fearing loneliness as a widow, she welcomes the chance to

live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.

Her new identity as a widow affords her the freedom to live for and answer to no one; in fact, her new position in society brings unacknowledged liberty. True, she loved her husband but was expected to bend to his will. Now she possesses complete “self-assertion” and wishes for a long life, which ironically she does not have a chance to enjoy.

This is because her newfound elation or “monstrous joy” abruptly ends as soon as she realizes that Brently is alive and she is not free. The husband

stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.

But Richards was too late.

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of joy that kills.

The fact that other characters believe she died “of joy” is an example of dramatic irony. Unlike the reader, the other characters have no idea that Mrs. Mallard was secretly rejoicing her freedom from marriage and thus upset and horrified by his return. Her “piercing cry” is not a cry of joy but of a shriek of dismay. Richards naively tries to shield her from the shock of suddenly seeing Brently alive. Her “monstrous joy” for a new life of liberation is decidedly not the happiness of seeing her husband or “joy that kills.”

Finally, the doctors erroneously attribute the cause of Mrs. Mallard’s collapse to a weak but happy heart. They believe that the joy of spotting her supposedly beloved dead husband alive creates too great a shock for her heart to handle. Perhaps this is true—maybe the shock triggers a fatal heart attack. The underlying reason for her heart attack, however, is not from joy but from extreme distress at the realization that Brently is alive; it is the abrupt loss of that earlier “monstrous joy” of freedom that kills her.

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

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 herself ill with the grief of her loss. Instead, this wife who believes herself a widow is " drinking in a very elixir of life."

The situational irony comes to new light when Mrs. Mallard realizes that her husband is very much alive, and it is she who ends up dead at the story's close—not her husband. This ironic twist shows that so much can happen within the span of an unpredictable hour.

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

Situational irony occurs when something is expected to happen, but the opposite happens instead. Kate Chopin's short story "The Story of an Hour" has great examples of this literary device. This short story takes place within one hour, in which the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard, learns of her husband's death.

The story begins with the line "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." When she hears this news, Mrs. Mallard does grieve and weep as expected, but then she retreats into her bedroom alone. Here, it is expected that she will continue mourning, and her sister becomes worried about her being alone. However, Mrs. Mallard is no longer sad. She feels as if she will now be free and able to live a joyous life.

Another example of situational irony occurs at the end of the story when her husband returns home alive and well. It is expected that she will react joyfully and be ecstatic that he was not killed in the train accident as suspected. However, she suffers a heart attack and dies upon seeing him. The doctor explains her death as "joy that kills." However, we know the opposite to be true.

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

In this story, all the neighbors and Mrs. Mallard's sister think Mrs. Mallard is overwhelmed with grief when she hears her husband has been killed in a train accident. In fact, even Mrs. Mallard doesn't at first understand her own feelings:

There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully.

It is only after she stops to think that the realization dawns on her: she is feeling joyful and liberated about her husband's death, not grief-stricken. This is ironic, because it is not how she or anybody else around her expects her to feel. She is not living by the "distraught widow" script. She is, as she thinks, "free, free, free!"

She, in fact, relaxes, joyfully realizing she can now be her own person.

As a final twist, however, when her husband appears and she learns the reports of his death were mistaken, she dies. All of this happens within a single hour. The irony here is that people think she has died of joy over seeing her husband alive, when the opposite is true.

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

Situational irony occurs in a story when the outcome of an event is the opposite of what one expects. Two paired instances of situational irony create the structure of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," both hinging on Mrs. Mallard's heart trouble and her husband's life. 

The first sentence of the story introduces Mrs. Mallard's heart trouble, implying immediately that the news of her husband's death might precipitate a heart attack. Thus, the expectation is solidified beyond what readers would already anticipate: a woman who learns of the untimely death of her husband in a train accident will be overcome with grief. The irony is that Mrs. Mallard, after retreating to her room ostensibly to grieve, finds herself experiencing joy instead. She imagines the years of freedom spreading before her and focuses on her unexpected but welcome liberation, rather than on her loss. 

The second instance of irony, which caps off the story, occurs when Mr. Mallard appears in the doorway. He has not died after all. Normally, a wife would greet such news and such an appearance with joy, relief, and even euphoria. Readers would expect the wife, when she finds out that her husband is still alive and sees him standing there, to rush to him, embrace him, and possibly weep for joy. Instead, Louise drops dead of a heart attack. Her reaction is so unusual, the doctor ascribes her death to "the joy that kills," which is ironic since it was not what really killed her.

The impact of Chopin's story depends on the skillful use of situational irony; Louise reacts to the news of her husband's supposed death (and is happy) and to his appearing before her alive and well (and dies) in the opposite fashion of what we would expect. 

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

This story is a great one to use when discussing irony, because it is full of it, to be sure.  In situational irony, you are looking for examples that demonstrate that life often hands us things that are entirely the opposite of what was expected, and that are beyond our control.  It often demonstrates how little power humans have over events in their lives, or sometimes even over our reactions and emotions.  So, based on that, here are some examples from the story.

1.  Brentley Mallard, whose name had been on a list of the dead, turns out to actually be alive.  First of all, there is irony in him dying in a fluke train accident in the first place; then, once the characters are finally accepting his death and getting used to the idea, he walks in the door.  No one would have expected that, and it is a huge shock to everyone.

2.  The ending, when Louise dies, supposedly of "a joy that kills," is actually ironic, because we know better.  We know that she wasn't joyful that her husband was alive; in fact, we know that she had felt repressed and miserable in her marriage and that Brentley's death had liberated her from those chains.  So, it is ironic that she would have a heart attack, not when she learned that he was dead (as in the beginning), but when she learned that he was alive.  The doctor ironically concludes it was joy that killed her; that is not very likely.

3.  Louise's reaction to the news of her husband's death was unexpected, and even a bit surprising to her.  She feld "freedom!" and "joy" at the news.  This is an unlikely and surprising result; not grief, not mourning, but joy.  That just goes to show how life is often surprising, and can't be fit into nice little predictable categories.

I hope that helped; good luck!

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

Dramatic irony is a stylistic device which occurs when the audience knows more about a situation than the characters do and is aware of certain facts that the characters are not. In Kate Chopin's celebrated short story "The Story of an Hour," Louise Mallard receives the news that her husband, Brently Mallard, has died in a tragic railroad accident. Initially, Louise experiences an emotional outburst and begins to sob. She then goes upstairs and locks herself in her room to process the unsettling situation. Inside her room, Louise Mallard does not mourn her husband's death but begins experiencing an overwhelming sense of joy and tranquility as she imagines the upcoming years without being under Brently's stifling rule.

While Louise is pleasantly mesmerized by the thought of being free from her husband's authority and society's oppressive expectations, Josephine is under the impression that her sister is making herself ill and begins violently knocking at her door. This is an example of dramatic irony because Josephine is completely unaware that Louise is experiencing a sense of hope, joy, and purpose, which she hasn't felt in many years. Another example of dramatic irony takes place at the end of the story when Brently walks through the door, and Louise immediately dies of a heart attack when she discovers that he is alive. The audience recognizes that Louise has a heart attack due to the sheer terror of her dream being destroyed and the impossibility of experiencing independence, while the doctors determine that she died of "a joy that kills." Essentially, the doctors believe that Louise was too happy and excited that her husband was alive, that excitement causing a heart attack. It is ironic because the audience recognizes that this theory could not be further from the truth.

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

There are two major examples of dramatic irony in the story. The first comes when Louise is informed of her husband's death. As soon as she's heard the bad news, she locks herself away in her room, giving everyone the impression that she's grieving over her sudden loss.

But in actual fact, she experiences an immediate sense of liberation. Now that she's no longer shackled to her husband, the world looks very different to Louise all of a sudden. Now she's full of vim and vigor, hopeful at what the future may bring for the very first time since she got married.

The second example of dramatic irony comes right at the end of the story. It turns out that Louise's husband didn't die after all, and when he walks trough the door, Louise immediately collapses and dies, her weak heart unable to deal with the shock.

Everyone assumes that Louise collapsed because she was so overjoyed to see that her husband was in fact alive and well. But the reality, as in all cases of dramatic irony, is very different. Louise did indeed die of shock; but it was the shock of massive disappointment and sadness—the sudden realization that all her hopes and dreams for the future had just been completely destroyed.

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

Dramatic irony is evoked when the reader knows more about something than the characters in the story do. There are two key elements of dramatic irony in this story. Because a significant portion of this story focuses on Louise Mallard when she is alone in her room, the reader is privy to her innermost thoughts during this time, while Josephine and the others do not know what is going on in the room. They have not witnessed the young widow—as she believes herself to be—beginning to feel that she is "free" as a result of her husband's death. Therefore, when Josephine begs Louise to open the door, fearing that she will "make yourself ill," there is an underlying dramatic irony. Josephine is afraid that her sister is in hysterics of grief, whereas the reader knows the opposite to be true.

The second key element of irony comes at the very end of the story. It is broadly ironic that, instead of being freed by her husband's death, Louise is actually killed by shock at his reappearance. Specifically, there is dramatic irony in the fact that the doctor declares her dead of "the joy that kills." In actuality, we know that Louise had just come around to feeling happiness at being left without a husband. As such, we can be fairly sure that it was not joy she felt at the reappearance of her husband. Instead, his reappearance has killed her freedom and her prospect of joy itself, causing her to die of disappointment.

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

Dramatic irony refers to when the reader or audience knows something that one or more characters do not.  In this particular story, we know that Louise Mallard is not in her bedroom, grieving and inconsolable, though her sister is unaware and is truly concerned for her health and well-being.  

Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. "Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door—you will make yourself ill.  What are you doing, Louise?  For heaven's sake open the door."
Josephine assumes, quite naturally, that Louise is grief-stricken about the loss of her husband because this is the normal reaction to have when one's husband dies (and we know that Brently Mallard was a good husband because Louise thinks about how he "had never looked save with love upon her").  In reality, however, Louise is actually experiencing a "monstrous joy" at the prospect of "no one to live for her during [the] coming years."  She is thrilled that she will now be free: she whispers, again and again, "Free!  Body and soul free!"  Thus, we know more than Josephine and Richards, Brently's friend who came to deliver the news.
In the end, when Brently returns and Louise dies at the sight of him, we also realize that the cause of death decided on by her doctors, "joy that kills," is incorrect.  Louise does not die of joy when her husband returns; she likely dies of disappointment: all that freedom she so looked forward to enjoying vanished the moment she realized her husband was still alive.
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What is the irony in "The Story of an Hour"?

There are several types of irony. Dramatic irony is the type of irony in which the audience or reader knows more about events or people than the characters in the story. Dramatic irony is present in "The Story of an Hour." One example occurs after Louise has been told that her husband has been killed. She excuses herself to her room, and she is presumably grieving the loss of her loved one. Josephine assumes this as well, and she implores to be let into the room in order to console Louise.

Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. "Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door—you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the door."

This moment is a good example of dramatic irony because the reader knows by this point that Louise is definitely not sad about her husband's death. She is sad to a certain extent, but she is more excited about the possibility of living out the rest of her life doing what she wants to do. She is "free."

The very end of the story is dramatic irony as well. The doctors claim that Louise died of a "joy that kills." Everybody believes that she was so happy to see her husband alive that she died from being too happy. Again, the reader knows different. We know that Louise essentially died of depression and heartache.

I don't think a third, prominent example of dramatic irony can be clearly identified in this story; however, there are clear examples of situational and verbal irony in the story. Situational irony is when something happens that is at odds with what is expected to happen. This kind of irony is clear at two points in this story. Louise is told that her husband was killed, and she is happy. Readers don't expect that at all. We expect her to be sad. We also don't expect her to die in the end of the story. When we find out that her husband is alive, we expect her to be sad and fake her happiness. As for verbal irony, I've always liked the opening and closing lines of the story. Readers are told that Louise has "heart trouble" in the opening line of the story. The story closes by reminding readers of this heart affliction.

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease . . .

When the story begins, readers have no reason to suspect that the heart trouble is anything other than biologically related; however, by the end of the story, we recognize that the "heart" condition may be an emotional heart condition. Her heart and soul are suffering from the repression that exists within her marriage.

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What is the central irony of "The Story of an Hour"?

There is one central irony in Chopin's short story "The Story of an Hour". The main character, Mrs. Mallard, is a woman who feels the stress of being a repressed wife. As a woman, the lines of her face show her to be much older than she really is. The stresses of her life have pre-maturely aged and overwhelmed her.

Upon learning of the death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard locks herself in her bedroom to think about the path her life will take. She looks out the window and notices the renewal that nature brings and begins to embrace herself as a free woman.

Soon after her epiphany, Mrs. Mallard emerges from her bedroom "like a goddess of Victory." Unfortunataley, and ironically, Mrs. Mallard's joy comes to an abrupt end. Mr. Mallard has not died in a train accident. Instead, he was not even at the site of the accident and is alive.

Here is where the story hits its ironic twist. After seeing that her husband is still alive Mrs. Mallard dies- on the spot. The irony of the story exists given that her husbands "death" allows her to find her freedom. Upon the realization that her freedom does not really exist, Mrs. Mallard succumbs to the fact that she is, again, a bound woman. This new epiphany kills her.

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What is the central irony of "The Story of an Hour"?

I'm not sure there is a "chief" irony in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour."  Does there have to be a "major" irony as opposed to "minor" ironies?  You can take your pick among many.  It is ironic that the news of the death of her husband is supposed to make her sad but instead makes her rejoice.  It is ironic that in a patriarchal society often the only chance a woman has to succeed is to improve her social/economic standing by marrying wealthy, but she feels a tremendous sense of freedom when she hears that her husband is dead.  It is ironic that the news that her husband is actually alive is supposed to make her rejoice but instead makes her drop dead.  If there is an underlying or "major" irony, it might be the reversal of roles:  it is not the male who is trapped here, it is the female.  She is so elated at the glimpse of freedom she experiences that the revelation that she is not free is too much to bear.

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What is the central irony of "The Story of an Hour"?

Irony can be found all throughout the story, indeed.  For example, it is ironic that Brently Mallard, who we had been told was dead, was indeed alive and walked in at the end.  It is ironic that at the end, Louise dies of a heart attack, when all through the story itself, it was her husband who we thought had died, AND that she died upon good news and not bad like they were worried about.

However, given the main theme that comes out in many of Kate Chopin's stories of women who are discontented in their alloted roles as houswives, the main irony would have to relate to the fact that Louise, upon the news of her husband's death, was not sad.  Sure, she wept, and, as the story states, "she would be sad" when she saw him at the funeral, but, her main reaction is overwhelming and exilerating joy.  That is not a typical reaction to the news of the death of a loved one--it is ironic in a way that supports Chopin's main point.  Her message conveyed the idea that sometimes, women of her time period were not happy in marriage, even if that marriage was good.  She wrote many stories that had women finding happiness outside the bounds of marriage itself.  Louise Mallard's reaction is quite extreme; she sits in her chair and is filled with elation at the possibility of freedom from being married.  She is overwhelmed with happiness, and that is the main irony that exists in this story, the one that comes through the most strongly.  I hope that helped; good luck!

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

Louise Mallard's heart condition and the other characters' reactions to it provide the background for the irony in "The Story of an Hour." Louise has a heart condition that makes severe emotional reactions potentially deadly for her. As a result, the other characters try to be as delicate with her as possible when relaying the bad news of her husband's death in a railroad accident.

The irony comes in Louise's reaction: after a brief moment of grief, she feels elated. She felt trapped within her marriage, and while she would have never wished her husband dead, she thinks about all the years of freedom ahead of her, now that she does not have her husband to keep her in the position of a homemaker. The scenes of Louise's epiphany do contain subtle foreshadowing of the eventual heart attack, as her immense happiness causes her blood and breathing to quicken:

Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will—as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been. When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!" The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.

During this scene, Louise's sister, Josephine, stands outside the door and begs her to come out, believing she is making herself ill. Louise denies this, but the irony is that Josephine is, in a sense, correct: Louise is setting herself up to make herself fatally ill, just not in the way Josephine thinks.

When Brently unexpectedly returns home, not having been killed after all, Louise has a heart attack at the very sight of him and dies. The doctors misinterpret the reason for her death: they believe the sight of her husband made her so happy that her heart gave out. In reality, Louise died of sudden despair at having her newfound freedom taken from her before she could savor it. However, there is an added irony in the phrase "the joy that kills," which the doctors believe killed Louise. This phrase could easily be applied to Louise's joy at her freedom from marriage, because it is a joy that kills Louise the moment it is taken from her.

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What are examples of verbal irony in "The Story of an Hour"?

The best example of verbal irony in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is the short story's final line.
After receiving news of her husband's untimely death, Louise Mallard is initially very upset. She cries and briefly mourns before retreating to her bedroom to quietly process her feelings alone. During this time, she realizes that although she loves her husband, she is happy that he is deceased. Just days earlier, she felt dread when she thought of the future, but now, she looks forward to the future with new enthusiasm. She feels free and liberated by her husband's passing. Her life revolved around him and now she is excited to live for herself and pursue her own passions and interests for a change.

The story ends with an ironic twist in which we find out that Brently is alive and well. He was not involved in the accident thought to have killed him and shows up at his home with no knowledge that anyone ever believed him to be dead.

Upon seeing her husband alive, Louise has a heart attack and dies. In the story's closing line, Louise's doctors believe she died because she was overjoyed at seeing her husband alive:

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of the joy that kills.

This statement is ironic because it is not an excess of joy that kills Louise, but rather sorrow. She sees her husband alive and realizes that her freedom is gone. This sense of loss and disappointment is what kills her.

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What are examples of verbal irony in "The Story of an Hour"?

Verbal irony involves a statement that means something other than what it appears to mean (most often, it means the opposite of what is said).  The two examples of verbal irony that I can find in the story also involve dramatic irony, which is when the audience knows more than the character(s) in the story.  Therefore, when the doctors proclaim at the story's end that Louise Mallard died of "heart disease -- of joy that kills," they mean -- literally -- that her happiness at seeing her husband alive was too much for her heart; they are not employing verbal irony.  Rather, the author seems to be -- Chopin means that it was Mrs. Mallard's joy that "killed" her, just not the joy the doctors think: what really killed the protagonist was experiencing the joy of knowing that she would be free for the remainder of her life and then having that joy taken away.  Thus, we know more than the characters do, and we understand -- as Chopin wants us to -- that the doctors' statement isn't really true in the way that they mean it.

Further, when the narrator tells us early on in the story that "Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble," we assume that the trouble is with her actual, literal heart, the anatomical organ (and this seems to be what doctors' meant when they diagnosed her condition).  However, we later learn that the trouble is not with her literal heart, but her figurative heart -- the one we think of as the site of feeling or emotional happiness or pain: Mrs. Mallard is unhappy because she does not feel free, and there is, in fact, evidence to support the claim that her actual heart is quite healthy.  For example, after she's retired to her room to process the information about her husband, "Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body."  Her eyes were bright, and she felt more alive, not weak or faint.  Therefore, by having the narrator mention Mrs. Mallard's "heart trouble," Chopin refers to the character's emotional pain and suffering and not to a physical condition.  The words mean something other than what they appear to mean.

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What are examples of verbal irony in "The Story of an Hour"?

Verbal irony occurs when the speaker expresses one thing but means another. Often, that which is expressed is dramatically different (or even the opposite of) that which is said or written. An easy example is "he is as calm as a hurricane." The use of the word "calm" is ironic because hurricanes are violent and energetic. 

The narrator says that Mrs. Mallard, in recognizing her joy in her new freedom, "did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her." This seems like verbal irony but it is not. "Monstrous joy" is an oxymoron that accurately describes what the narrator is trying to communicate. Mrs. Mallard is so full of joy that she doesn't stop to think that it might be monstrous (because she is rejoicing after having just learned of her husband's death). 

The most clear example of verbal irony that I can find is the last statement of the story. "When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease--of the joy that kills." Mrs. Mallard dies of "the joy that kills." It is not "joy" that kills her. It is devastation because her joy is destroyed when she sees that her husband is alive. Her joy was caused by her freedom and independence. When she sees her husband alive, that joy is gone. "Joy" is ironic. 

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What are some examples of irony in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin?

In the context of "The Story of an Hour," a simple definition of irony is the difference between what everyone thinks is going on and what is actually going on--in this case, the difference between what Mrs. Mallard's friends and relatives think her reaction to her husband's death is and what is really taking place in Mrs. Mallard.

For example, when Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband's death in the train accident, she goes through what everyone observing her would expect--great anxiety, sorrow, fear.  The news is complicated by Mrs. Mallard's particular health problem, a weak heart, and everyone around her is trying to protect her.

The irony begins to grow after Mrs. Mallard goes upstairs, and after thinking about the fact that she is now going to be able to live her life independent of her husband, she fairly bursts with joy.  Admittedly, she tries to keep this joy in check, but as she hears the birds singing, and sees Spring bursting out everywhere, she realizes that her life is now unencumbered by a relationship that repressed her.  She admits, in fact, that although she loved her husband, she loved him only "sometime."  Clearly, this is a woman conscious of the repression of marriage and the freedom that has just been offered to her by her husband's death.

When she goes back downstairs, every observer wants to make sure her weak heart is protected, but when Mr. Mallard walks through the door, Mrs. Mallard has a heart attack and dies, an event that's attributed by her friends and sister essentially as too much joy for her heart to bear.

The irony here, of course, is that Mrs. Mallard drops dead not from joy at seeing her husband but because she realizes that her new-found freedom is gone.  Given the conventional attitudes of her time, Mrs. Mallard's death would never be attributed to its real cause--and that is the great irony of the story.

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What are some examples of irony in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin?

Irony is the juxtaposition of two incongruous or unexpected elements.  In "The Story of an Hour," Louise Mallard is said to have "heart trouble," although I do not believe we are ever told precisely what kind of heart trouble this is supposed to be.  This heart trouble, though, is of concern when Mr. Mallard is supposed to have been killed in a railway accident because Louise's sister, Josephine, and a family friend, Richards, worry that the shock of this news might kill Mrs. Mallard.  Because this is the reader's expectation, too, the first irony in the story is that Louise retreats to her room, not in shock, but in joy at the freedom her husband's death will bring her.  Her heart not only does not fail her, but it could reasonably said that her heart is singing.  The second irony occurs when it turns out that her husband did not die in a railway accident.  He returns home, alive and well.  So instead of being shocked at her husband's death, Louise is shocked at his being alive, shocked at the loss of freedom she had so briefly glimpsed.  It is this shock that kills her.  In each instance, we have an incongruous, unexpected reaction to Mr. Mallard's "death" and his actually being alive.

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What are some examples of irony in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin?

The irony in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is what frames this short story with Chopin's motif of heart problems in Mrs. Mallard. In the opening line, Chopin writes, "Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble...."  Ironically, this heart trouble is not physical as the reader first suspects; rather it is spiritual, the ache of a repressed spirit in Mrs. Mallard.  After she is told that her husband has died and she retires to the privacy of her bedroom, Louise Mallard senses a release of her spirit as she looks out the open window of the room.  Considering the new freedom that she can now possess, Louise Mallard's pulses beat faster and she comes alive with her sense of release.  But, after she rises joyously from her chair and descends the stairs carrying herself "like a goddess of Victory," she sees her husband standing by the front door, and, then, ironically, Louise Mallard dies of another heart trouble: "of the joy that kills"--the realization that her new-found freedom, her new joy, has been stolen.

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What are some examples of irony in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin?

In Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," the woman is expected to feel badly about her husband's death.  The other characters are worried that her heart trouble could cause a problem because she is shocked and hurt by her husband's death.  And they worry about her becoming too distraught when she is by herself in her room.

In actuality, the opposite of all of the above happens.  That's irony. 

Her initial reaction to the death of her husband is what's expected, but not for long.  Instead, she feels a release, a sense of freedom.  Her subservience to her husband is over, and she rejoices.  Her heart causes her trouble when she finds out her husband is still alive, not when she hears that he is dead.  And she is anything but distraught.  During her time alone in her room, she discovers a sense of freedom she, apparently, has not felt for a long time. 

Chopin uses plot, character thoughts and dialogue, imagery, and symbolism to construct the story and reveal its irony. 

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How does irony contribute to the theme of "The Story of an Hour"?

In Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," irony is one of the elements of the story that reveals and contributes to the theme. 

Everyone in the story assumes the wife will be heart-broken when her husband is reported dead.  The opposite is true.  Mrs. Mallard feels that she has been freed from the restrictive bonds of marriage and is definitely looking forward to the rest of her life.  That is ironic.

Again, society would expect her to be overjoyed when her husband turns out to be alive.  Instead, when she sees him she dies of a broken heart.  That is ironic.

Her heart is broken not by his death, but by his life.

The doctors assume she dies of "the joy that kills."  The audience knows the truth.  That is ironic.

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How does irony contribute to the theme of "The Story of an Hour"?

Quite simply, the greatest irony of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" exists in the entire plot, not so much in  particular dialogues or scenes, although some characters misinterpret her reactions. That is, it is tragically ironic that shortly after the repressed Mrs. Louise Mallard watches the birds outdoors as they fly and senses her freedom, she walks down the stairs from her bedroom in order to enjoy the tremendous sense of relief that she feels, only to discover that her repressive husband is yet alive. Then, rather than finally escaping her dismal life of a subjugated woman, Mrs. Mallard suffers a shock so great that it deprives her of her life.  Thus, she is more subjugated than ever, for she must relinquish, not only her independence, but her very being.

With the theme revolving around Mrs. Mallard's repression, it is ironic that what sets her free works in contrast to be the agent of her death as the thought of relinquishing her new found freedom and sense of self is more than her heart can bear.

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