Irony Symbolism and Foreshadowing as Literary Devices
Irony, symbolism, and foreshadowing as literary devices
Among Kate Chopin’s most impressive works is the short story entitled “The Story of an Hour”. This work best displays the importance of literary elements on the overall unified affect. Through the use of irony, symbolism, foreshadowing and paradox, the reader can grasp a better understanding of the main focus of the story. These literary elements are essential in the artistic style of the story.
The story opens with the foreshadowing of the main character, Mrs. Mallard’s, death. The author initially informs the reader of the woman’s heart condition to allow for further developments later in the story. Through the paradox, “the joy that kills”, Chopin alludes that in the end it will be Mrs. Mallard’s joy that is the cause of her demise. Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to the news of her husband’s death gives reason to believe that she had already accepted the “death” of her marriage. The end of their relationship did not come as a shock and she was able to accept its significance, something a devoted wife could not do. This is why Mrs. Mallard was able to instantaneously begin to grieve and to weep with “wild abandonment”. Within minutes, upon entering her room, she was struck by a calming peace, and was overcome by a feeling of control and serenity. The feeling that possessed her is symbolic of the change that she could not contest; the unrelenting factor that fate plays in a person’s destiny. The imagery that aids in the plot and meaning of the story is that of nature. There is a direct correlation between the time of renewal and rebirth in nature and the reawakening of the woman’s freedom. Although the death of a person is typically associated with seasons of death, Brently Mallard’s supposed death takes place in the spring. As she looks out the window, Mrs. Mallard is confronted by the freshly fallen rain, and the newly grown trees, all symbolic of her new-sprung freedom. The clouds, a metaphor for the shadows that hovered over her marriage, begin to part and make way for a fresh beginning. The structural symbols in the Mallard household, are further demonstrations in the struggle between dominance and submissiveness. Contrasting with the outside world, the interior of the house is a prison, meant to keep Mrs. Mallard withdrawn from the world. The doors are also...