Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour" -- which takes only a few minutes to read -- turns out to have an ironic ending, but on rereading it one sees that the irony is not concentrated only in the outcome of the plot -- Mrs. Mallard dies just when she is beginning to live -- but is also present in many details.
After we know how the story turns out, if we reread it we find irony at the very start: Mrs. Mallard's friends and relatives all assume, mistakenly, that she was deeply in love with her husband, Brently Mallard, and so they take great care to tell her gently of his death. They mean well, and in fact they do well, for they bring her an hour of life, an hour of joyous freedom, but it is ironic that they think their news is sad. True, Mrs. Mallard at first expresses grief when she hears the news, but soon (unknown to her friends) she finds joy in it. And, so Richards' "sad message," though sad in his eyes, is in fact a happy message.
Among the small but significant ironic details is the statement near the end of the story that when Mallard entered the house, Richards tried to conceal him from Mars. mallard, but "Richards was too late." This is ironic because almost at the start of the story, in the second paragraph, Richards with the best of motives "hastened" to bring his sad message: if he had at the start been "too late," Mallard would have arrived at home first, and Mrs. Mallard's life would not have ended an hour later but would have gone on simply as it had been. Yet another irony at the end of the story is the diagnosis of the doctors. They say she had died of "heart disease -- of joy that kills." In one sense they are right: Mrs. Mallard has for the last hour experienced a great joy. But of course the doctors totally misunderstand the joy that kills her. It is not joy at seeing her husband alive, but her realization that the great joy she experienced during the last hour is over.
All these ironic details add richness to the story, but the central...