Literary Theme in a Short Story

1 January 2017

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin had a deep and controversial theme. When thinking of the idea of a theme, many readers would agree that most stories have a main theme and there this is not a controversial thing, however, looking at this short story, and being of a Christian background, I feel that this short story invoked many different feelings towards the story, and therefore, my personal thoughts on the theme.

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Looking at the overall plot of the story, there are many directions that a reader could look at this story. In the story, the main character, Mrs. Mallard felt entrapped in her relationship with her husband. With a feeling of entrapment, there were also feelings of being in a prison-like setting. To me, the theme of the story was that love can be a wonderful thing, but it can also bring of feelings of entrapment.

Growing up in a somewhat “dysfunctional” family I was not raised with the idea that divorce was a good thing. My parents fought often when I was growing up and later on in my life, my mother told me stories of how she felt entrapped in her marriage to my father. My mother’s story was somewhat similar to that of Mrs. Mallard’s. Love can be a wonderful thing for many reasons, my mother always told me that her reason was the fantastic children that she had been able to have.

The tone of the short story “The Story of an Hour” is one that made me feel as though I was in a deep dark place with no way out. The writer, Kate Chopin used wording such as “breath of rain” in order to get a point across that there was a feeling of heaviness that had overcome the main character. Mrs. Mallard reacted with grief when finding out of her husband’s death but also is excited that she is an independent woman, this is something that in the end turned out to be hard on her physically with her heart problem.

The main character is a critical element to the theme that I discovered in this short story. Mrs. Mallard shows throughout the story that she has been saddened by her marriage to her husband including “the vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes “free, free, free”” This statement shows that she had been held by her vow of marriage to her husband and suddenly felt like she had been freed from her pain.

The use of language such as: “No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window” shows that the author is using symbolism. The word “elixir” is described in the Webster’s Dictionary as “a substance held capable of prolonging life indefinitely”. By using the word elixir, the author is making the reader feel as though she is betting better and taking a type of medicine and gives the impression that the main character would be free.

The short story “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is one of both ups and downs. To me the theme of the story is the ups and downs of love and marriage and that it can be a time that embeds a feeling of entrapment. References: Clungston, R W. (2010). Journey Into Literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://content. ashford. educ/books. Weber, C. (Ed. ). (2012). Webster’s dictionary (4th ed) Chicago: Webster Press.

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