Get help from the best in academic writing.

A Feminist Perspective of Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour

A Feminist Perspective of Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour

Kate Chopin employs the tool of irony in “The Story of an Hour” to carefully convey the problem inherent in women’s unequal role in marital relationships. Chopin develops a careful plot in order to demonstrate this idea, one not socially acceptable at the end of the 19th century, and unfortunately, a concept that still does not appreciate widespread acceptance today, 100 years later as we near the end of the 20th century. Louise Mallard’s death, foreshadowed in the initial line “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart trouble” takes on quite a different meaning when the plot twists and the context of her sudden death is presented unexpectedly, not upon her shock at her husband’s death, but instead in her inability to endure the fact that he lives.

While Chopin’s employment of irony presents a socially unaccepted concept in a more acceptable format, it is the author’s use of perspective that increases the impact of her message. Chopin’s point might be lost, perhaps entirely, if the reader were not informed from Louise’s viewpoint. While the other characters are oblivious to her actual joy in death, although it is described as such “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease – of joy that kills,” their definition of this joy equates to her love for her husband. In contrast, because Chopin writes from the perspective of Louise, we understand that the intermittent love she feels for her husband, love itself dismissed as the “unsolved mystery,” pales in comparison to the joy she feels upon the discovery that she can now live with the “possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being.”

… middle of paper …

…for his wife Louise, Chopin writes to stress the problematic assumption inherent in an unequal relationship in which one individual exercises their “powerful will” to bend others.

Louise Mallard finds personal strength in her husband’s death, ready to face the world as a whole person “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday (prior to her husband’s death) she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.” The strength conveyed in the image of Louise carrying “herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory” is unmistakable. However, the irony that her husband lives, and therefore, she cannot, conveys the limited options socially acceptable for women. Once Louise Mallard recognizes her desire to “live for herself,” and the impossibility of doing so within the bounds of her marriage, her heart will not allow her to turn back.

Use of the Single Effect in A Cask of Amontillado

Use of the Single Effect in A Cask of Amontillado

Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Cask of Amontillado” is perhaps the most famous tale of terror ever written. Montresor, the story’s narrator, leads the reader through his revenge on Fortunato. Montresor entices Fortunato into the dark recesses of the family catacombs with the promise of a very fine wine. At the climax of the story, Montresor shackles Fortunato to a wall and seals him away forever behind brick and mortar. In all of Poe’s short stories he attempts to convey “a certain unique or single effect.” “A Cask of Amontillado” expresses its dark view of human intention by using elements of irony, foreshadowing, and metaphor. The first person point of view also lends itself to an exploration of the inner secrets of Montresor.

The major theme in the story is the deep hatred buried within the outwardly congenial Montresor. This makes it vital that the story be told with Montresor’s thoughts known to the reader. The tale simply would not work if it were told from Fortunato’s point of view, or from a dramatic/objective angle. An omniscient view would function, but by knowing only Montresor’s thoughts the reader develops a trust in him, and this causes the story’s theme to have a more personal effect on the reader.

“A Cask of Amontillado” is replete with ironic statements and situations. Fortunato’s very name is ironic given his horrific fate. At the beginning of the story, when Montresor divulges his theories on proper revenge, he says, “A wrong is unredressed when retibution overtakes its redresser.” This is ironic (and a bit amusing) as Montresor is utterly consumed by his hatred of Fortunato. Then, during their descent into the catacombs, Montresor tries several times to con…

… middle of paper …

…ontresor’s sociable facade, then the catacombs below symbolize the hate within him. Poe gives explicit descriptions fo the foul caverns. They are “insufferably damp . . . encrusted with nitre.” The “founess of the air” nearly extinguishes their torches. Poe describes the “white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls.” Clearly Poe’s desired efect is to expose the evil that consumes from within.

Each of the literary devices used in “A Cask of Amontillado” serves to reinforce Poe’s single effect. As Poe himself says in “The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale,” an author “invents such incidents–he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect.” The use of the first person perspective along with some irony, foreshadowing, and metaphor aid the delivery of Poe’s single effect in “A Cask of Amontillado.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.