The Story of an Hour
By: Kate Chopin
This short story is about an hour in the life of the main character, Mrs. Millard. She is afflicted with a heart problem. Bad news has come about that her husband has died in a train accident. Her sister Josephine and Richard, who is her husband's friend, has to break the horrifying news to her as gently as possible. They both were concerned that the news might somehow put her in great danger with her health. Ironically, Mrs. Millard reacts to the news with excitement. Even though the news is heartbreaking she is finally free from the depressing life she was living. She keeps whispering "Free! Body and soul free!" She now is happy because she doesn't have to live for anyone but herself now. At the end of the story, Mr. Millard opens the door and is surprised by Josephine's cry. Mr. Millard didn't have the faintest idea about the accident. With a quick motion, Richard tried to block Mr. Millard's view of his wife but it was too late. The doctors said she died of a heart disease. The story ends with a short phrase "of joy that kills".
Because Mrs. Millard had a fragile heart, her sister was hesitant in breaking her the news of her husband's death. Unlike most women who find themselves in denial after being told something of this magnitude she wept at once. Once she composed herself she locked herself in her room and would let no one in. She was noticing things outside of her window she had never noticed before. Things that we take for granted and only appreciate when we are happy, but how could this be if her husband had just passed? She began to weep again and then she was somehow reborn. For with her husband she had been restrained and now she had all this new found freedom she did not enjoy before. She was ready for the world to the amazement of her sister and that of her husband's friend, Mr. Richards as well. When she saw her husband she passed and the doctor said she died of a joy that kills but they did not understand that she actually died of sadness. Because now she was to be repressed in her husbands presence once more and this she could not bare.
The author uses many literary elements in the short story. Some are personification, imagery, and similes. Personification is stated in the line that follows: "she was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression,. This element shows how strongly she is in repression. It makes the reader actually feel how depressing her life with her husband was. She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. "The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves." Imagery is portrayed in these sentences. By using imagery, the author can help the reader see and feel the environment the character is in. This helps the reader understand the poem on a next level. She carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. The author uses simile to describe how calm and happy she is now. She really feels free of all negative vibes now.
In conclusion, the message of the poem is that freedom is a prized possession in Mrs. Millard life and now she feels that at last she has captured it back in her life. The author uses many literary techniques to convey the message and the author also used many hints to help explain the meaning.