composition week two
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin is a short story about a woman named Mrs. Mallard who discovers that her husband has passed away. The piece uses several literary devices to provide a clear image of what occurs in the story, such as tone, characterization, and foreshadowing.
Tone, a literary device which this story uses, is the viewpoint of the author or narrator in relation to a certain subject. Tone creates a mood in literature, and affects how the audience readers a piece; it can make the readers regard it as serious, humorous, or depressing. It can also help readers understand a character’s qualities better. The tone of this story is sad and often depressing, and it shows throughout the story. “Except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams…. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky.” (Chopin 2-3) The tone is conveyed through the author’s choice of words, making the tone of the story depressing.
Another literary device The Story of an Hour employs is a tragedy, a literary device in which a character experiences tragic events, which finally ends with an unhappy ending, usually including a downfall of the character. The purpose of tragedy in literature is to evoke feelings of sorrow or dismay in the readers of the story. Mrs. Mallard experiences tragedy twice in the story, once when she discovers she has lost her husband, and the second time is when she finds that her husband is actually alive. “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death. It was her sister Josephine who told her…. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death…. 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. There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself…. Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered…. He had been far from the scene of accident, and did not even know there had been one…. When the doctors came they said she had died of heart dis- ease….” (Chopin 2-3) Mrs. Mallard was so shocked that Mr. Mallard was alive, meaning that her sense of freedom was simply illusory and she dies from a heart attack. This was Mrs. Mallard’s downfall, one of the final stages of tragedy in which a character meets an unhappy end.
One last literary device The Story of an Hour uses is called euphony, which is the usage of words and phrases that are pleasant to the ears. Euphony can usually be achieved by using certain vowels and consonants, and employing other literary terms like rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, etc. One good example of how euphony is used in this story is the description of the landscape just outside of Mrs. Mallard’s window: “the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The de- licious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a ped- dler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless spar- rows were twittering in the eaves.” (Chopin 1) There is noticeable melody in the words ‘delicious,’ ‘twittering,’ ‘eaves’ and ‘song.’ Imagery can also be another literary device used in this situation because the words Chopin uses help the readers paint a picture of the occuring scene.
“A Sorrowful Woman” by Gail Godwin is a story about a woman who becomes overwhelmed with her role as a wife and mother, and withdraws from her husband and child, eventually shutting them out of her life and locking herself in a small room to be away from them. Godwin uses the literary devices of connotation, conflict and foreshadowing to convey a certain meaning to the readers throughout the story. In the first paragraph, we meet the characters - her husband, her son and her. Her conflict is clear from the start with “The sight of them made her so sad and sick she did not want to see them ever again.” (Godwin 1). We then go on to learn that this character fulfills her role as the female archetype - cooking, cleaning and taking care of the family as is expected of her time period, but she is not happy. Although she fulfills the role of the female archetype, she is not stereotypically happy as is expected and shows great unhappiness that this is her role in life. This is both a person vs Society conflict in that she is not happy with her societal expectation and a Person vs Self conflict as she deals with the dark feelings it gives her. In the story, the author also uses foreshadowing to begin to give us an idea that something is going to take place. The author writes, “He said he understood. What would she like him to do? "If you could put the boy to bed and read him the story about the monkey who ate too many bananas, I would be grateful." "Of course," he said. "Why, that's a pleasure." And he sent her off to bed. The next night it happened again.” (Godwin 2). The character’s husband appears to be happy to oblige to her request and is helpful whenever his wife asks. He is helping her do things that are regularly part of her role as a woman and so it almost seems like she is preparing him to be comfortable doing these things as she has a similar behavior the next night and asks him to do something for their son again “Thank you and could you get him a clean pair of pajamas out of the laundry, it came back today… I am the luckiest woman” (Godwin 3) but she says so while crying earnestly. Although she says that she is the luckiest woman the connotation of what she means is clear. She likely feels like the most unlucky person and the unhappiest. And we find out what the overtone of her words meant when in the end when the character kills herself because she was unhappy and did not want to be the mother and wife anymore.
A Soldier’s Home by Earnest Hemingway is a story about a man named Harold who returns from war and has a hard time becoming adjusted to his life afterwards. The story uses setting, _ and _ to make it easier for readers to understand Harold’s struggle after he becomes ostracized by family and others. Hemingway utilizes setting in his story. The literary device setting is the location and time period in which a story takes place. Setting can help readers understand the events in a literary piece. In this situation, the story takes place in the state of Oklahoma, in summer of 1919. “He enlisted in the Marines in 1917 and did not return to the United States until the second division returned from the Rhine in the summer of 1919…. Krebs returned to his home town in Oklahoma” (Hemingway 86) From this quote we can understand that Harold has just returned to his home town after touring for two years. Another literary device which is used is irony, which is when something completely different from what was expected happens. One use of irony in Soldier’s Home is when Harold arrives back home later than other soldiers, he doesn’t feel like talking about his experiences in the war, but later on he feels the need to boast and exaggerate about what he witnessed and went through. “At first Krebs, who had been at Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel and in the Argonne did not want to talk about the war at all. Later he felt the need to talk but no one wanted to hear about it. ” (Hemingway 1) Despite wanting to talk about his experience a while after, no one wanted to hear his stories since they’d already heard from the other soldiers.