5 October 2009
A Monstrous Joy
“The Story of an Hour” is a classic short story written by Kate Chopin that tells a tale of irony in a very short period of time. In Chopin’s story, irony is exhibited through the main character, Louise Mallard, and her tragic heart affliction. The story opens with the news that Brently Mallard, Mrs. Mallards husband, has been killed in a “railroad disaster.” The news of her husband’s death combined with the reader’s initial knowledge of Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble leads one to believe that a great wave of sadness and depression is imminent, however, Chopin tells the reader that Louise is overcome with a “monstrous joy”. It is soon discovered that Mrs. Mallard is taking a very optimistic stance on the situation. As the story progresses, more details of Mrs. Mallard’s newfound hope and joy are uncovered, and it is even suggested that Louise felt trapped in her marriage:
…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 a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature (Chopin 773).
Louise indicates a strong lack of freedom and looks forward to a life without marriage. Towards the end of the story, Josephine escorts Louise downstairs and together they discover one of the most ironic elements of the story—Brently Mallard standing in the doorway. The doctors rule the cause of death as a “joy that kills.” The doctors, however, “find it impossible to imagine the true reason for Louise’s shock…” (Edwards 3). Without the knowledge that only Mrs. Mallard and the reader have, it is highly improbable to determine the actual reason for her death. “The Story of an Hour” utilizes irony in such a way as to pull into question the traditional views of marriage....