The Story Of An Hour Review English Literature Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: English Literature|
|✅ Wordcount: 4662 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
In Donald F. Larsson’s entry on Kate Chopin in Critical Survey of Short Fiction, we learn that “consistentlyâ€¦strong-willed, independent heroinesâ€¦[who] cast a skeptical eye on the institution of marriage” are very characteristic of her stories. In “The Story of an Hour,” we do not so much see as intuit Mrs. Mallard’s skeptical eye. Certainly, we are told of the joy she feels with the freedom she finds in her husband’s death, but we are not specifically told that she is skeptical of marriage in general. Indeed, if we take the last line of the story literally, we would understand that Mrs. Mallard was so enamored of her marriage to her husband that she died from the excitement of knowing he was still alive. Yet, obviously, Chopin is engaging in some heavy handed irony. Mrs. Mallard, the young “repressed” woman who began to look at her widowhood as a rebirth, similar to the “new spring” outside her window, did not die from such excitement. She expired from “a heart problem”-an instantaneous knowledge that her momentary glimpse into a “life she would live for herself,” a “life that might be long,” was not to be.
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Some of Chopin’s short stories were rejected for publication on moral grounds, for editors perceived in them an unseemly interest in female self-assertion and sexual liberation. Per Seyersted, Chopin’s biographer, writes in his introduction to The Complete Works of Kate Chopin, Volume 1, that the “reason why editors turned down a number of her stories was very likely that her women became more passionate and emancipated.” Given that “The Story of an Hour” was published in 1894, several years after it was written, we can comprehend the importance of moral grounds as a basis for rejection. Marriage was considered a sacred institution. Divorce was quite rare in the 1800s and if one was to occur, men were automatically given legal control of all property and children. Even the constitutional amendments of 1868 and 1870, granting rights of citizenship and voting, gave these rights to African-Americans, not women. Women were not granted the right to vote in political elections until 1920. Obviously, then, a female writer who wrote of women wanting independence would not be received very highly, especially one who wrote of a woman rejoicing in the death of her husband. The fact that she pays for her elation with her life at the end of the story is not enough to redeem either the character or the author.
Although “The Story of an Hour” is brief, Chopin demonstrates her skills as a writer in several ways. Fred Lewis Pattee says in A History of American Literature Since 1870, that the strength of Chopin’s work comes from “what may be described as a native aptitude for narration amounting almost to genius.” Larsson notes her remarkable ability to “convey character and setting simply yet completely.” All of these qualities are evidenced in “The Story of an Hour.”
The story opens with the narrator telling us that Mrs. Mallard has “a heart trouble.” A quick reading of the phrase might mislead the reader into thinking that Mrs. Mallard, therefore, has heart disease. Yet Chopin chose her phrase with care. She wants her readers to know that Mrs. Mallard has a very specific condition that interferes with the workings of her heart. Later, when we see Mrs. Mallard “warmed and relaxed”, we realize that the problem with her heart is that her marriage has not allowed her to “live for herself.”
Another instance of Chopin’s gift of narration enables the reader to understand that what is being told is more than a tale. This illustration involves Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to the news of her husband’s death: “She did not hear the story as many women would have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance.” If a reader had paused at this sentence, he or she might have wondered what there was in the marriage that would keep Mrs. Mallard from becoming prostrate with grief. The reader might have questioned why Mrs. Mallard was not consumed with wondering how she would go on with her life without her husband. Yet, in the very next line we see that she is assuredly grieving as she cries with “wild abandonment.” We find ourselves a bit surprised at this point. Surely a woman in a troubled marriage would not carry on in such a manner. In this instant, Chopin has hinted that a problem exists, but also that Mrs. Mallard is not “paralyzed” by the significance that she is alone. Chopin elaborates upon this when the narrator says that Mrs. Mallard “would have no one follow her.” While the implication is that she would have no one follow her to her room, the reader wonders in hindsight whether Mrs. Mallard might have meant also that she would have no one interfere with her life again.
It is also easy to come to the same conclusion as Larsson does, that the setting is simple but definitely complete. The breaking of the news takes place in an unspecified room within the Mallard’s house. The revelation of freedom occurs in the bedroom, and Mrs. Mallard’s demise occurs on the stairway leading to the front door that her husband opened. Chopin gives us no details about the stairway or the room in which we first meet Mrs. Mallard. Although news of death and death itself occur in these areas and are certainly among a few of life’s most tragic and momentous events, the setting could be anywhere. Conversely, we are inundated, or overwhelmed, with details in the bedroom where Mrs. Mallard becomes her own person. We see the “comfortable, roomy armchair” in which she sits with “her head thrown back upon the cushion.” We see the “tops of treesâ€¦aquiver with new spring life” that we can hear and smell from her window.
Some critics argue that Chopin wisely tempers the emotional elements inherent in Mrs. Mallard’s situation. Although the emotion in Mrs. Mallard’s bedroom is indisputable, the “suspension of intelligent thought” removes from the reader the need to share in the widow’s grief and instead allows him or her to remain an onlooker, as eager as Mrs. Mallard to see “what was approaching to possess her.” Other critics credit Chopin’s readings of Charles Darwin and other scientists who prescribed to the “survival of the fittest” theory as the impetus, or driving force, behind her questioning of contemporary mores and the constraints placed upon women. In “The Story of an Hour” Chopin implicitly questions the institution of marriage, perhaps as a by-product or her scientific questioning of mores, but she does so in a cleverly tempered way.
Chopin, fatherless at four, was certainly a product of her Creole heritage, and was strongly influenced by her mother and her maternal grandmother. Perhaps it is because she grew up in a female dominated environment that she was not a stereotypical product of her times and so could not conform to socially acceptable themes in her writing. Chopin even went so far as to assume the managerial role of her husband’s business after he died in 1883. This behavior, in addition to her fascination with scientific principles, her upbringing, and her penchant for feminist characters would seem to indicate that individuality, freedom, and joy were as important to Chopin as they are to the characters in her stories. Yet it appears to be as difficult for critics to agree on Chopin’s view of her own life as it is for them to accept the heroines of her stories. Per Seyersted believes that Chopin enjoyed “living alone as an independent writer,” but other critics have argued that Chopin was happily married and bore little resemblance to the characters in her stories.
Perhaps Larsson’s analysis of Chopin in Critical Survey of Short Fiction best sums up the importance of Chopin to present day readers. He writes: “Her concern with women’s place in society and in marriage, her refusal to mix guilt with sexuality, and her narrative stance of sympathetic detachment make her as relevant to modern readers as her marked ability to convey character and setting.” It can be inspiring to know that more than a century ago, women were not necessarily so different from what they are today. Certainly, woman have experienced and benefited from many newer technologies and changing attitudes, but, for a woman, finding her way in life can still present temporary difficulties. Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” illustrates many of these issues.
Source: Jennifer Hicks, An overview of “The Story of an Hour,” in Short Stories for Students, Gale Research, 1997.
When you want to insert a short quotation (fewer than 40 words), include it as part of the current line. For instance, one of my favorite quotes by C. S. Lewis (1984) is from his book Till We Have Faces. It goes, “Why should your heart not dance?” (p. 96). After quoting, you need a citation. If you have already mentioned the author in your text, then you need only the year of publication and the page number for a direct quote. If you have not mentioned the author in text, then include the author’s last name in the citation. For example, I also like this quote, “I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road” (Lewis, 1963, p. 6).
This is block/displayed quotation style. Single-spacing is allowed for student papers. See The LBCH, p. 465 (6th ed.) or p. 420 (5th ed.).
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In “Because I could not stop for Death,” Dickinson launches an imaginative investigation into the experience of death. She writes about the experience from the point of view of a person who has died and imagines being carried away in a carriage driven by Death. This simple narrative serves as a launching point for Dickinson’s nuanced and subtle exploration of what it means, and how it might feel, to die.
“Because I could not stop for Death” (1863)
Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-
We slowly drove-He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility-
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess-in the Ring-
We passed the Fields of Grazing Grain-
We passed the Setting Sun-
Or rather-He passed Us-
The Dews drew quivering and chill-
For only Gossamer, my Gown-
My Tippet-only Tulle-
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground-
The Roof was scarcely visible-
The Cornice-in the Ground-
Since then-’tis Centuries-and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity-
Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
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This legal and political dualism was mirrored, though perhaps in the distorting manner of a circus funhouse, by a similarly double and ambivalent black cultural position with the simultaneous emergence of a relatively distinct African American trans-regional popular culture and of a linked and similarly national “mainstream” popular culture that excluded African Americans in some respects and absolutely depended on the representation and recreation of black bodies, black voices, and black culture in others. As one might imagine, this situation could produce a sense of contradiction or doubleness in someone who was told in words, deeds, and laws that he or she was a citizen and yet not a citizen. And, of course, by the early twentieth century the problems of, in Du Bois’s words, “the color line,” of where and of what one might be a citizen or a potential citizen took on a new urgency for African Americans, perhaps most clearly seen in the establishment of the Universal Negro Improvement Association by Marcus Garvey (a great admirer of Washington), especially with Garvey’s founding of a New York branch in 1917.
The problem of dualism, whether in Du Bois’s semi-psychological proposition of two more or less unintegrated consciousnesses existing simultaneously in one body, Dunbar’s notion of the masking of one’s true nature (with the protoAlthusserian dilemma that Du Bois identifies as only seeing one’s self through the eyes of others who see only the mask), or a more strictly legalistic sense of post-Reconstruction Jim Crow segregation, is this problem of being a citizen and yet not a citizen (and, by extension, of being legally human and not quite human at the same time) in an increasingly urbanized and industrialized United States. How does one respond? Through integration or separatism-or through a sort of separate development of a group culture and politics that would enable the group to force itself into the “mainstream” of culture and power in the United States? And if one tries to represent what one might consider the distinctly African (American) portion of black subjectivity, what might that be? The folk culture? Who then defines or constitutes the folk, and how does one allow the folk subject to speak? How does one represent and/or recreate his or her culture without being contaminated by minstrelsy, “coon songs,” and plantation literature, by popular and so-called “high” culture appropriation or misappropriation? How does one deal with the doubleness of popular culture as seen in minstrelsy, the cakewalk, the “coon song,” ragtime, and the ambivalence of African American minstrel-influenced vaudeville?
Dunbar engaged these questions most directly in verse written in what William Dean Howells described as “literary English” (Introduction, Lyrics of Lowly Life xix). “The Poet and his Song,” apparently among the most consistently performed “literary English” poems in Dunbar’s readings to African American audiences, is second to appear in his 1896 Lyrics of Lowly Life.1 The familiar pastoral conceit of the poem is that the artist is a sort of arborist who sings as he works. But after an initial stanza that sets the scene, the following three stanzas each feature a problem causing the poet disappointment, dissatisfaction, and, eventually, anger and feelings of rebellion: no one acknowledges or praises his songs; he works hard while “others dream within the dell” (“The Poet and His Song” 1. 22); his garden suffers from a strangely malignant drought or rapacious blight that seems to have singled him out. The poet appears able to quell these feelings with a certain stoicism that many of Dunbar’s contemporaries, particularly those writing in the plantation tradition, said was a defining feature of African American folk psychology, declaring “And so I sing, and all is well.” (“The Poet and His Song” 1. 32). Still, each time the feelings rise higher and the tone of the poet’s transition to the calming refrain feels more strained, and by the end, near hysterical so that the reader wonders if the next rise of passion will overwhelm him entirely, much like the speaker of Cullen’s “Heritage”-or tear him apart to invoke Du Bois’s image in The Souls of Black Folk.2 That the poet submerges or hides these emotions in cheerful song recalls Dunbar’s early mentor and patron Frederick Douglass’s famous comments in his autobiographies about the hidden
In The Morning
‘Lias! ‘Lias! Bless de Lawd!
Don’ you know de day ‘s erbroad?
Ef you don’ git up, you scamp,
Dey ‘ll be trouble in dis camp.
T’ink I gwine to let you sleep
W’ile I meks yo’ boa’d an’ keep?
Dat ‘s a putty howdy-do-
Don’ you hyeah me, ‘Lias-you?
Bet ef I come crost dis flo’
You won’ fin’ no time to sno’.
Daylight all a-shinin’ in
W’ile you sleep-w’y hit ‘s a sin!
Ain’t de can’le-light enough
To bu’n out widout a snuff,
But you go de mo’nin’ thoo
Bu’nin’ up de daylight too?
‘Lias, don’ you hyeah me call?
No use tu’nin’ to’ds de wall;
I kin hyeah dat mattuss squeak;
Don’ you hyeah me w’en I speak?
Dish yeah clock done struck off six-
Ca’line, bring me dem ah sticks!
Oh, you down, suh; huh! You down-
Look hyeah, don’ daih to frown.
Ma’ch yo’se’f an’ wash yo’ face,
Don’ you splattah all de place;
I got somep’n else to do,
‘Sides jes’ cleanin’ aftah you.
Tek dat comb an’ fix yo’ haid-
Looks jes’ lak a feddah baid.
Look hyeah, boy, I let you see
You sha’n’t roll yo’ eyes at me.
Come hyeah; bring me dat ah strap!
Boy, I’ll whup you ‘twell you drap;
You done felt yo’se’f too strong,
An’ you sholy got me wrong.
Set down at de table thaih;
Jes’ you whimpah ef you daih!
Evah mo’nin’ on dis place,
Seem lak I mus’ lose my grace.
Fol’ yo’ han’s an’ bow yo’ haid-
Wait ontwell de blessin’ ‘s said;
“Lawd, have mussy on ouah souls-“
(Don’ you daih to tech dem rolls-)
“Bless de food we gwine to eat-“
(You set still-I see yo’ feet;
You jes’ try dat trick agin!)
“Gin us peace an’ joy. Amen!”
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on June 27, 1872. His mother, Matilda Dunbar, was a former slave with a love for poetry. His father, Joshua Dunbar, was a civil war veteran who had served in the 55th Massachusetts Volunteers, a famous regiment whose ranks were composed of African-Americans. His parents divorced in 1874 and his mother worked long hours to support her family.
Paul Laurence Dunbar published his first poems in school newspapers while attending Dayton’s Central High School. Orville Wright was a classmate. After his graduation in 1891, the only work he could find was as an elevator operator in Dayton’s Callahan Building. Many monotonous hours moving between floors allowed Dunbar’s poetic creativity to flourish.
Throughout 1891 and 1892, Dunbar submitted his elevator poems for publication in newspapers and popular magazines with limited success. His first anthology, Oak and Ivy was printed in 1893 at his own expense. This small volume of poetry recovered his investment of $125, but by the end of 1893, the young poet was financially despondent.
Dunbar left Dayton in 1893 and moved to Chicago. He met abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who employed him at the World’s Columbian Exposition. Within a few months he returned to Dayton and his position of elevator operator.
When at his lowest, Dunbar was befriended by Dr. Henry Archibald Tobey, the distinguished superintendent of the Toledo State Hospital for the Insane. Dr. Tobey became Dunbar’s greatest patron, more than once loaning the struggling poet substantial sums of money. Over the years, Dunbar was able to repay his benefactor, and also present to his friend a signed, inscribed copy of each of his increasingly popular works.
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Dr. Tobey paid the printing costs for the private publication of Dunbar’s second collection of poems, Majors and Minors, in 1895. The young poet’s second anthology contained some of his best work from Oak and Ivy, together with original poems demonstrating a new maturity. A small section of Majors and Minors (the “Minors” essentially) featured humorous poems in Kentucky black dialect, a voice which the author would find increasingly inescapable. Majors and Minors contained many of Dunbar’s most enduring poems. Dr. Tobey circulated copies of the book among his friends who included the playwright James A. Herne. In turn, Herne sent a copy to an acquaintance, William Dean Howells.
On June 27, 1896, William Dean Howells, the nation’s most prominent literary critic, published a glowing one page review of Majors and Minors in Harper’s Weekly. By coincidence, the issue reported on the nomination of William McKinley for the presidency and consequently had a tremendous circulation. Dunbar, it was said, went to bed destitute and woke up on the morning of his twenty-fourth birthday as one of the most famous living Americans of African descent.
In 1897 Dunbar spent six months in England, touring and making personal appearances with the hope of furthering his career. The trip was not very successful financially, forcing him to return to the United States. Shortly after his return Dunbar was hired by the Library of Congress with the assistance of Robert Ingersoll, an orator and political speechmaker. In March of 1898, he married Alice Ruth Moore, a poet and school teacher. The marriage only lasted four years. After separating from Alice in 1902, Dunbar returned to Dayton. He died on February 9, 1906, at the age of 33 from tuberculosis.
In 1975, Dr. Tobey’s grandson, Mr. William Shepard of Dayton, presented Tobey’s nearly complete, inscribed collection of Dunbar’s first editions to the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library at Wright State University. It is one of the most significant collections of Dunbar’s work in existence.
Now I want to discuss chocolate. Chocolate is one of my favorite topics. I have this book called 10,000 Dreams Interpreted, and it talks about what it means if you dream about chocolate:
To dream of chocolate, denotes you will provide abundantly for those who are dependent on you. To see chocolate candy, indicates agreeable companions and employments. If sour, illness or other disappointments will follow. To drink chocolate, foretells you will prosper after a short period of unfavorable reverses. (Miller, 1997, p. 143)
When you want to include a quotation of 40 words or more in length, then you indent the entire quotation one-half inch, or five to seven spaces, in block/displayed quotation style. Do not use quotation marks around a quotation displayed this way. Note that with other citations you put the period after the citation, but with block/displayed quotations, you place the period before the citation.
Remember, the purpose of citations and the References page at the end of your paper is to give the reader enough information to locate the information in the source.In my further studies of dreams and chocolate, I checked out a Web site to see if it agreed with the Miller book. The site said, “To see chocolate in your dream signifies self-reward. It also denotes that you may be indulging in too many excesses and need to practice some restraint” (Dream Moods, 2003, p. C3). In this case, the only author listed is the group author of the Web site, an organization called “Dream Moods.” The group does not use page numbers on their site, so I wrote “C3” because I found the information under page 3 of the “C” entries. More text here more text here more text here. More text here more text here more text here. More text here more text here more text here. More text here.
Additional APA Format Tips:
Use one space after all punctuation (including periods and colons.
Do not hyphenate words at the end of a line.
Always have at least two line of a paragraph at the top or bottom of a page. (Select Format | Paragraph from the Word menu bar. Then, on the Line and Page Breaks tab, check Widow/Orphan control.)
See The LBCH, pp. 310-311 (6th ed.) or pp. 290-292 (5th ed.) for rules on using numbers.
You should start a new paragraph whenever you begin to write about a new idea. Paragraphs have no specific minimum or maximum length, but make sure to try to cover each topic adequately without boring your reader or inserting irrelevant information. A good general rule of thumb is to have no more than ten typewritten lines in a paragraph.
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Now, what if you want to use a quotation from the Ashford University Online Library? For instance, this is an interesting quotation: “Indiana teacher Richard Beamer trusts his students with his life. Last fall Beamer fulfilled his longtime dream of flying west at treetop level¾ in a plane built by his fifth-grade students at Southward Elementary School” (Arce, 2003, p. 38-39).
If you want to reference a work that has two authors, you list both authors in your citation. For instance, I often use Mad Libs to teach basic grammar concepts to my students. After all, sentences like “Who could really [VERB] that there were two [PLURAL NOUN] in space?” (Price & Stern, 2001, p. 25) are much more fun than diagramming sentences.
You should not always include direct quotations. In most cases, try to put the author’s ideas in your own words (paraphrase). When you paraphrase, you still need a citation. For instance, if I am thinking about attitudes towards education, I could tell you that Bunt and Yang (2002) examine the Adult Attitude Toward Continuing Education Scale (AACES) to determine its effectiveness. This parenthetical reference requires only the year because I mentioned the authors in the text, I followed the mention directly with what they said, and I listed the source on the References page. However, if I tell you that the attitudes of college students are more easily influenced by peers than faculty norms (Milem, 1998), then this reference requires the author’s name in a citation because I did not mention the author in the text. Neither reference requires a page number because the references are not direct (word-for-word) quotations.
I hope this sample paper is a useful aid in helping you prepare your Ashford University student papers. Remember to check your style guide, The Little, Brown Compact Handbook (6th or 5th edition) for more detailed information about APA style. Also, please remember that your instructor has the right to modify these guidelines for a specific class.
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