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Literature is any written or spoken creative material, always read aesthetically, and which meets certain features and stated criteria to distinguish it from other forms of writing. The criteria and features include use of metaphors, similes, alliterations and symbolism among others.
The story of an hour is a short story by Kate Chopin describing the actions that took place in one hour of a young woman's life. Its setting is at home, with the presence of the protagonist, Louise Mallard, her sister Josephine and friend, Richards).
The story begins with an announcement that Brently mallard is involved in a train accident, causing his death. His friend Richard is present at the newspaper station where this news is announced. He collects Josephine, Mrs, and Mallard's sister and together they go to Mr. Mallard's house to break the news to the new widow.
Josephine takes care and breaks the news gently to her sister keeping in mind her troubled heart condition. At first, Mrs. Mallard does not take the news lightly, as she cries, runs to her room and locks herself inside, refusing to heed her sister's plea to open it. As she thinks about her life with her husband, she gains a strange new feeling of relief and freedom. Surprised that she could feel this way, she feels guilty for feeling thrilled that she no longer has to live in her husband's shadow.
Louise opens the door and walks downstairs when the three of the hear someone trying to open the door with a latch key. Richards notices it is Brently and remembering Louse's heart condition, tries to block her from seeing her husband alive suddenly, but he was too late as Louise fainted. The doctor's arrived late too and within that short hour, Louise had died (Scott, 2004).
The main theme illustrated by the author is Oppression. Louise is described as a beautiful young woman with "wrinkle" concealing her sadness with the life she has with her husband. This symbolised the oppression her husband must have put on her, leading to her heart condition which eventually cause her death. A woman was seen as a child bearer, cook, house cleaner, e t c. leaving Mr. Mallard to dominate his wife. This oppression is exhibited by the relief Mrs. Mallard feels after the short mourning grief. She feels she owns has her whole life to herself without having to live under someone else (Spack, 1998).
Closely linked to oppression is also repression as a theme. Mrs. Mallard repressed a lot of feelings, especially towards her husband and their lives together. Self awareness and identity is also a theme to look out for in this short story. It seems Mrs. Mallard had no self awareness before learning of her husband's death. She lived under his shadow, not knowing how to express herself and do what she wanted. After her short grief, she is described to have had a feeling of "self awakening". It's as though she was discovering herself at this point, knowing she does not need her husband and even feeling triumphant about his sudden death.
Another strong theme in the story id the theme of death. Starts with an announcement of Brently's death, and ends with Louse's death
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Conflict in the story can be both internal and external. There is an external conflict in the accident scene (as we imagine an accident that results to lose of life). There is also an external conflict at Mr. Mallard's house. When Mrs. Mallard is told the news of her husband's sudden death, she acts violent and runs to her room. This scene, if we create it in our minds shows conflict between the e two women. One trying to comfort the ether, another crying and pulling away. Josephine runs upstairs and tries to implore her sister to open the door, telling her, "You will make yourself ill". This is also an external conflict, with Josephine pounding at the door, shouting and begging her sister to open the door.
The scene at the end of the story also creates an external conflict. Mrs. Mallard fainting, doctors come in, Mr. Mallard's confusion. And all the action at such a scene creates an external conflict of people, ideas and action among others
Internal conflict is also illustrated in the same scene of Josephine begging he sister not to make her ill. With the knowledge of her sister's illness, Josephine must have had an internal psychological unsettlement thinking of what her sister could do to herself. This resulted in her own internal conflict making her beg her sister to open the door (Verley, 1998).
Mrs. Mallard also experienced internal conflict within herself, not knowing if she should be happy or sad about her husband's death. After her unsettling situation of feeling relived at her husbands death, she realise that she ought to be sad. This creates internal conflict to her, leaving her feeling guilty, numb, happy, and triumphant. She also had an internal conflict within herself, even before her husband's death. She had mixed feeling about her husband, but she managed to repress them thinking her destiny could be much better off.
Symbolism is used to make this story captivating and creative. An example includes, the use of word like "spring time" to symbolise the new life Mrs. Mallard thinks awaits her. "Patches of blue sky", symbolise her new hopes for a better life. Other figures of speech used are, metaphors, (9 breath of air) similes, and irony.
In conclusion, this is a short captivating story in one hour of a woman's life; the characters include Louise mallard, Brently Mallard, Josephine, Richards and the doctors. My point of view is that the story tells of the morality in life, especially with the people we live with. Mrs. Mallard seems to have been punished for feeling good about another person's death, Mr. Mallard felt the lose of his wife due to a heart condition that he could have caused, and Richards, together with Josephine felt responsible for Mrs. Mallards death, as the had rushed to deliver information without verifying the facts. We should learn to be patient, treat others well and have empathy for those we live and associate with.
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