In, The Story of an Hour, written by Kate Chopin, there are many hints of irony shown throughout the story which are finally revealed in the end. This short story reveals the allusion, the unexpected joy, and finally the reality of what has really happened to Mr. Mallard. Mrs. Mallard is alluded and given the information that her husband is dead. From this allusion comes the unexpected joy. This unique situation was revealed to Mrs. Mallard, and the unexpected joy of not having anyone to control her is so overwhelming that she starts making plans for the future. When she finally realizes that the information given to her was incorrect, she is forced to face the harsh reality of not having all of her freedom. This topic shows the irony of not knowing the right information, and jumping the gun before this information is confirmed.
The allusion that Mrs. Mallard comes to accept as reality is that her husband is dead, but she makes no effort to find out if this information is true With the allusion of Mr. Mallard’s death, Mrs. Mallard starts making plans for the future. These are explained in great detail by Stephen R. Shuchter in the Dimensions of Grief Adjusting to the death of a Spouse. The allusion that Mr. Mallard is dead gives Mrs. Mallard an overwhelming sense of freedom, and throws out all rational thinking. When Mrs. Mallard is alluded and given the information that her husband is dead. “It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of killed. He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message”(Chopin 452). When Richards finds out this disturbing news of his friends death, he only reads the telegram and then goes and tells Mrs. Mallard. This news over her husbands death is quite inaccurate, when in fact he is very much alive but she is misinformed and is brought to think that he is dead . After being oppressed for so long Mrs. Mallard jumps right into making a new life for her self . “While the surviving spouse is learning new tasks and roles, he or she is simultaneously “trying on ” new aspects of identity , new self-concept: as future “mother-father,” “sole supporter,” “boat operator,” “single person,” ” autonomous functioner,” “lonely widow,” or “incapable and helpless victim”(Shuchter 114). This shows that Mrs. Mallard is living and accepting the fact that her husband is dead and is ready to move on with her life. She makes the transition of being married to being a widow rather quickly without much thought or asking any questions such as, what if he is really alive and not dead, which would be a perfectly natural response to the death of a spouse. “Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own” (Chopin 452). This further shows the transition made by Mrs. Mallard or making plans for the future and living in the allusion that her husband is dead. “The anticipation of this future reality allows the surviving spouse to experiment with such self-perceptions and work toward realizing those that make the most sense or are the most desirable. The still-living spouse can also contribute his or her version of the vision and reinforce the more positive views” (Shuchter 114-115). The fact that Mrs. Mallard keeps on living in the future and not facing reality is her biggest downfall. ” She saw beyond the bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely” (Chopin 452). She is already on the last stage of accepting the death of a spouse. She is only setting herself up to be disappointed, and she will be let down when she sees Mr. Mallard in the end.
The unique situation which is revealed to Mrs. Mallard that gives her the unexpected joy of not having anyone to control her, this is so overwhelming, that she starts making plans for the future. The joy that comes from the news that Mrs. Mallard’s husband, Mr. Mallard had been killed in an accident. Chuck Falcon explains this reaction to the death of Mr. Mallard in Psychology Made Easy. The irony of Mrs. Mallards reaction to the news that her husband death is that of joy, her reaction to this is what brings her to her death, which is ironic, because all she wanted was to be free from her husband’s overbearing will. “There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have the right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature”(Chopin 452). This further shows that Mrs. Mallard feels as if she has been reborn, and can live her life the way she see fit, instead of the way her husband feels she should live it. “Basically, Happiness is enjoying and appreciating life and feeling good about yourself” (Falcon 8). There is no way that Mrs. Mallard could have felt good about herself if her husband was living her life for her. This explains the significance of the joy that comes from knowing that the person holding her back is dead. “Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own” (Chopin 452). Just thinking of her freedom brings her great joy. There would be no greater feeling in the world than that of being free. “Happiness- this love for life, the world, and oneself ? relates to certain kinds of thoughts, feelings, and actions. Another important characteristic of happy people is their ability to give themselves, to love, and to have deep relationships. Relationships involve warmth, closeness, companionship, trust, and sharing interests, activities, ideas, and values” (Falcon 9). These were all things that Mrs. Mallard had not felt in a long time. The sudden rush of being able to be herself was so unexpected for other to relate to , because they had not felt oppressed as Mrs. Mallard had been. “She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength” (Chopin 450). The idea that she was no longer helpless in her struggle to break free from the ties which bound her, gave a glimmer of hope to this young delicate fair women. The power of hope is what drove Mrs. Mallard crazy with joy. This joy and hope is what soon will be taken away with one fatal blow.
The reality that Mrs. Mallard is forced to face is very overwhelming and proves to be deadly. The reaction to coming to grips with reality, and the stress of marriage is explained in I Just Lost Myself Psychological Abuse of Women in Marriage written by Valerie Nash Chang. The allusion, and unexpected joy, are the keys to bringing Mrs. Mallard to her death, by Mr. Mallard walking in, and bringing her back down to reality. With the new found freedom Mrs. Mallard is overcome with joy, and ready to live life on her own.. This finally leads to the reality of things. Mrs. Mallards husband is not dead and is very much alive. This is revealed at the very end of this short story. “It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one”(Chopin 452). This is the end of Mrs. Mallard’s dreams, although they were short lived, they were still her hope for the future. The idea of being oppressed again is unbearable and causes a great deal of stress for Mrs. Mallard “When individuals believe that the demands in their life are greater than their ability to cope, a negative emotional and cognitive state of psychological stress is created. Numerous studies have linked stress and an alteration in immune function, which leads to increased susceptibility to disease” (Chang 111-112). With her ongoing stress to please and serve her husband, this stress has made her vulnerable to heart disease which she ultimately dies of. She finally got a glimpse of living life on her own that she was unwilling to let it go. She had made plans for the spring and summer and was ready to live, but the second her husband walked through the door her dreams were shattered, and she could not take the loss nor could her heart take any more stress. This finally leads to the irony that Mrs. Mallard in the end is so shocked to see her husband alive that her weak heart gives out and she is the one who ends up dead. “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of joy that kills”(Chopin 452). This could not have been farther from the truth. It was the fact that she had to face reality again and go back to her normal life, these were the reasons for her death. She showed great joy in knowing her husband was dead. In saying that she was so happy to see him alive it killed her, is very hard to believe. “Numerous other studies have shown that unhappy marriages are a prime source of stress and that the quality of the relationship influence the members’ health. Benne showed that although unhappily married registered distress on the following health indexes: “disability, chronic illness, neurosis, depression, and isolation” (Chang 112). The constant stress of being oppressed and ignored was too much for Mrs. Mallard to handle. She was unwilling to go back to that way of life. ” There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” (Chopin 452). Mrs. Mallard felt she had won a war, and was so disappointed when she found out her troops, being her dream, were slaughtered. Mrs. Mallard’s heart gave out due to the intense anguish of loosing something she loved more than anything, her freedom.
The allusion, unexpected joy, and the reality of things are the three aspects that help build the irony of this story. Although Mrs. Mallard dies, she is setting the example of not confirming information before she starts making plans. This is shown to be fatal to her, but is not always the case for every situation. Mrs. Mallard is a prime example of jumping the gun. Although she put all her faith into Richards’ information she should have waited to start making plans. This is one of the human vices that she has and has not over come, but this was her natural response to this situation, which makes it unique that she would not be the one who would end up planning their life without the other.
Chang, Valerie. I Just Lost Myself Psychological Abuse of Women in Marriage. Connecticut: Praeger Publishers,1996.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” ScottForesman Literature and Integrated Studies. Ed. Cortes Carlos E., Carol Booth Olson, Alan C. Purves. Illinois: Glenview, 1997. 450-452
Falcon, Chuck. Psychology Made Easy. Lafayette: Sensible Psychology Press, 2000.
Shuchter, Stephen. Dimensions of Grief Adjusting to the Death of a Spouse. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers,1986.