Jessica Danielle Powell's English 170W Blog
The Long Development of a Short Story.
 
 
And…Let’s get Technical: Setting, Character Analysis, and Synopsis
Posted on December 7th, 2011 at 7:31 pm by Jessica Danielle Powell and

Setting (Temporal and Spatial): The text does not give any direct language that relates to setting but there are in text clues such as:

Temporal Setting

  1. Brently Mallard and Mrs. Mallard are married
  2. Brently Mallard “allegedly” died in a rail road accident while working on the railroad
    1. This hints to us that the setting is in a period of industrialization and reconstruction.
    2. “Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey” (Chopin)
      1. Latchkeys were being used primarily during this time period.
      2. “…carrying his grip-sack”(Chopin)
        1. This quote also hints to the time period the story is set in.

 

 

Spatial Setting

  1. One clue to the place where the story is taking place is the fact that Brently Mallard was working on the railroads. The place where the story is taking place is located where industrialization was taking place and railroad tracks were being laid.

Character Analysis à Shaped after the Questions posed on ENotes.com concerning Character Analysis

Main Characters

Mrs. Louise Mallard

Mrs. Louise Mallard is “young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength”. After receiving the news of her husband’s death she didn’t receive it the way “normal” women would. Choosing not to accept its significance caused her to immediately start crying and then storming into her room, refusing to allow anyone to follow her. By doing this, she is allowing herself to have space, in order to be able to endure, and consequently allows us to witness without interference, the gradual and peculiar changing of her emotions. Knowing that her emotions would be strange to her sister Josephine and her husband’s friend Richard’s she isolated herself to avoid any confrontation. Most of her time inside of her room is the physical manifestation of her emotional states. Her next major decision was deciding to leave her room after praying a prayer that life may be long so she is able to discover her new found freedom, and walk down the stairs due to her sister Josephine’s constant begging. Her actions were the result of logical judgment, knowing that her reaction to her husband’s death would startle those around her she went upstairs into her room and upon leaving her room she knows that her newfound freedom is ready to be lived in. Mrs. Mallard is described as young, fair, having a calm face, strong, slender, white, and afflicted with heart trouble which is also analogous to her personal oppression within her marriage. Mrs. Mallard is a round character that grows out of her oppressive state to realizing, embracing, and attempting to use her newfound freedom between the beginning and the end of the story. The growth from oppression to the realization of her own freedom was initiated by the death of her husband and aided by her peculiar and   quick change in her emotions from sadness, wariness, caution, fear, inviting, and then to peace. Unfortunately Mrs. Mallard’s growth is ended by her own death.

Supporting Characters

Brently Mallard:

Brently Mallard is Mrs. Mallard husband and he works on the railroads within his area. Due to the fact that at the beginning of the story Mr. Mallard is pronounced dead, he isn’t present to be characterized but is characterized by his wife. Mrs. Mallard says in paragraph 11:

“She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her… She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.” (Chopin)

This quote characterizes Mr. Mallard as someone who hurt Mrs. Mallard but she found joy in the fact that those days were over and the time ahead of her looked at her lovingly and with abundance unlike her husband.

And in paragraphs 19-20 Mrs. Mallard says: “And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being (Chopin)”

After the death of Mr. Mallard, it is illustrated here that Mrs. Mallard was given life or as the quote states a “strong impulse”. This exemplified that Mr. Mallard was like death to his wife’s impulse to live. Mr. Mallard is continuously called emotionless through Mrs. Mallard’s procession of emotions and is a flat character showing no growth from the beginning of the story to the end.

 

Josephine:

Josephine is Mrs. Mallard’s sister and when telling her sister about her husband’s death she told it in pieces and with caution, paying special attention to her sister’s feelings. The decision to tell her sister about her husband’s death was wise because it was in consideration of her feelings. Josephine also urges her sister to not stay in her room alone because her emotions could cause her great harm psychologically and physically. Josephine acts out of sincere care for her sister and does not endure any growth from the beginning to the end of the story.

Richards:

Richards is Mr. Brently Mallard’s friend who received news of Mr. Mallard’s death while he was in the newspaper office. He awaited the conformation of his friend’s death through a second telegram which illustrates his cautious nature and his ability to make informed decisions. He shields MR. Mallard’s eyes from the dying image of his wife again illustrating his cautious and caring nature. He does not experience any growth throughout the course of the story.

 

Synopsis of the Story of an Hour

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is the hour long story of the emotional and physical extremes that Mrs. Mallard, Brently Mallard’s wife goes through after receiving news from Richards ,her husband’s friend, and her sister Josephine that Mr. Mallard died in a railroad accident. Upon receiving this news initially she weeps in “wild abandonment”, but soon is faced with the scariest and most liberating desire she has: Her freedom. After receiving a taste of the freedom that she has desired for her whole life, that was constricted by her marriage, she travels down the stairs with the help of her sister Josephine. Physically and emotionally exhausted she watches as her ‘dead’ husband comes through the front door alive and well. She gives into her “heart trouble” mentioned in the first sentence of “The Story of an Hour” and dies of “joy that kills” or in other words the inability to fully grasp the freedom that she has desired for so long.

Works Cited

“How to write a Character Analysis”. How To Write a Character Analysis – Information, Facts, and Links. Web. Accessed 18 December 2011. <http://www.enotes.com/topics/how-write-character-analysis>

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