hey, anyone feel like giving me a little feedback? I'm taking a collage analytic writing class and we've got our first big essay due soon, any feedback would be very appreciated.
we did the paper on this:The Story of an Hour its a great story and really short, I recommend reading it, but you don't have to to give any feedback.
Looking at "the story of an hour" as a metaphor about life.
If a reader were look at "The Story of an Hour" as a simple story, an ironic one perhaps, but a simple one none the less, they would see the process of a young wife made into a weeping widow, a contemplative soul searcher and finally a very surprised, and then dead woman, all in the course of an hour. If a reader looks more closely though, that reader might just realize that "The Story of an Hour" is in fact a short story chalk full of interesting imagery and symbolism. One of the main themes in this story is rebirth.
The first clue we have about the kind of woman our main character is comes from the line "She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance," which implies that she is slightly different than the rest. She absorbs things immediately and deeply, weeping and emotionally expressive the moment the fact that her husband is dead is told to her. This shows you the depth of emotion our main character has, and how close that emotion is to the surface, especially when it concerns her husband.
Soon she goes to her bedroom and locks herself in, this shows that even though her sister and her husband's friend are both there to support her, she feels she must be alone, showing that she is an introspective woman. As she settles down in her armchair looking out the window, the first thing that is mentioned is that "She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life." Already we see she is thinking about new life, not just life, but new life. As she continues to look out the window she hears all the sounds of life moving on, this, coupled with the mention of new life and the main plot being about the death of her husband, brings to mind the cycle of life, of death, and rebirth that all things go through. "She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, 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." again, this reiterates the concept of renewal, of being a child.
As she stares out at the blue sky between the clouds the story goes on "She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. 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. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought." this is symbolic of her own death, she stairs of into the heavens and there is a suspension of thought, as if she is not there. She is not reflecting on her old life, nor is she looking towards her new one."There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air." Now, her new life comes to her, out of the heavens, out of the eternal blue sky. She senses its presence through the sights, sounds and scents of life around her.
She is afraid because a new life is much like death, a great unknown, this is again symbolic of the cycle. Soon the unknown presence reaches her and, though she tries with all her will to fend it off, it fills her because, again like death, rebirth is unavoidable. "The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body." These are the signs of her new life coming into its own, it is a good feeling because, though it is an unknown, life is inherently good as everyone knows if they care to think about it.
"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." She seems to have no problem with the man himself, but she goes on to say, "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." this implies that she resented the future that the presence of her husband would impose upon her. We know that this woman is introspective and a loner by nature and that she has strong emotions, it stands to reason that she would have a great zest for life, but with her husband by her side, bending her will, she didn't really have what she considered a life of her own, as shown when it says, "There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself." With this realization she has been reborn out of the death of her husband, life from death and the cycle goes on.
"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!" here the story shows that it is not one about love, the unsolved mystery, but about the realization that self-assertion is her strongest impulse. What is life but an impulse to find out and be who we truly are? A life goal, at this point she has begun to live again.
""Go away. I am not making myself ill." No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window." she says this to her sister knocking at the door, and it says it right there "drinking in the elixir of life". She has progressed through the symbolic death of her old life (vacant eyes, staring into the unknown) which merged seamlessly into rebirth (the presence coming from the unknown, followed by the exhilaration of new life) and then moving on to experiencing life.
We have now passed the climax of the story and begin to enter the after part.
"Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own." this part symbolizes her new life, and as she opens the door and emerges with "a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory." it is symbolic of leaving the middle part of her life, having truly accomplished something, she begins so descend the stairs, a metaphor for entering the twilight of her life. As she reaches the bottom of the stairs the door opens and her husband enters, giving her a heart attack and suddenly ending her life, bringing the story full circle.
As we read the story we can see several related themes running throughout it. One of these themes is that the husband represents her old life. On the surface it would seem that the woman is sad over loosing her husband, but a closer look reveals that the husband is barely mentioned at all after the first paragraph. The reason that she is so emotionally effected, and so suddenly, is that her husband was her life, I go back to this quote from the book to show you what I mean, "There would be no one to live for during those coming years" she was literally living for her husband, and now that he is dead her old life has gone as well.
I want to revisit another quote, "The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body." here is a very simple and in-your-face representation of the cycle I am talking about. It is right in the story, each step. "vacant stare" symbolizes death, the "look of terror" is the fear of the unknown, of new life, of rebirth, and then the look leaves her leaving her full of what else, life and vigor. Death, rebirth and then life, its right there in the story.
At the end of the story it mentions that the doctors say she died "of the joy that kills", this is a reference to the hidden joke of the story. It is the obvious irony that she ends up dieing and her husband is fine that leads us to the true joke which is contained in the title "The Story of an Hour". What are our lives if not stories? In truth couldn't it have been called "The Life of an Hour" just as well?