The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin and Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway Essay

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Masterfully written short stories by legendary writers like Ernest Hemingway and Kate Chopin stir the senses.  They transport readers to a different time and place and are written with rich imagery along with other literary elements like figures of speech to convey the message.  Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants and Kate Chopin’s.

The Story of an Hour carry different themes, but both have similarities – they are suspenseful  accounts of human concerns, specifically relationship conflict, and both are written in simple yet highly creative, insightful manner. Both short stories also mirror something more than the things revealed by the characters through dialogue.  The central characters’ thoughts represent aspirations and pinings emanating from the soul, making them truly magnificent literary works.

The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin and Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

A Literary Comparison

The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin and Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway are two engrossing works that are easy to read and simple enough to digest.  Notwithstanding the simplicity, both literary selections are full of insights, symbolisms and parallelisms to real-life situations.

The Story of An Hour takes off at the home of the main character, Louise Mallard, who is about to receive news of her husband’s untimely demise which a family friend surmised must have happened following a train wreck. Mrs. Mallard strikes the reader as a fragile woman “afflicted with a heart trouble” (Chopin, para. 1) so readers get an inkling that something is about to happen.  The early foreshadowing builds suspense, prodding readers to move on. The reader soon learns that Mrs. Mallard is a devoted wife who learns to get in touch with her feelings.

She represents the lonely and restricted 19th century woman who feels trapped in a marriage that has lost its luster and who is raring to actualize her own dreams, and aspirations away from her husband’s shadow.  This is a recurring theme in many works of literature.  As far as Kate Chopin is concerned, depicting her own somewhat feminist views may be said to be emancipating and appealing to readers who like the topic of women trying to obtain freedom from the shackles of love and life.

When Mrs. Mallard feels tremendous relief, following the initial grief, engulfing her after receiving the tragic news of her husband’s death, she draws readers to empathize with her. Mrs. Mallard comes across as a woman who is coming to terms with her own feelings and aspirations, so many readers are able to identify with her.

When the author, after depicting vivid imagery to represent the future which Mrs. Mallard begins to envision herself enjoying, describes her as “young, with a fair calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength” (Chopin, para. 8), readers are able to make out a woman who has matured beyond her years, mainly because she has long been yielding to the wishes and requirements and needs of her husband, at the expense of her own happiness and fulfillment.

Mrs. Mallard’s personality is strong, forward-thinking, and appreciative of the beauty around her. Kate Chopin underscores this point through vivid imagery, as gleaned in several lines, like when she wrote, “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air…” (Chopin, para. 5).

Personification and metaphor are employed by the author in these lines.  The phrase “new spring of life” clearly represents Mrs. Mallard’s foreseen opportunity to savor life to the fullest, with no husband to curtail her actions. It is evident that notwithstanding the tragic news, Mrs. Mallard became quite excited about the prospects that were suddenly opened before her.  When her excitement builds up, the author underscores the character’s sentiments by utilizing other figures of speech like repetition, as shown in the following line: “Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own” (Chopin, para. 18).

Mrs. Mallard’s strange reaction to news of her husband’s death is unknown to the other characters. It is only the reader who is aware of the tumultuous stirrings within her to be free from societal expectations.  Hence, it comes as dramatic irony when Mrs. Mallard is diagnosed in the story’s ending to have “died of heart disease – of joy that kills” (Chopin, para. 23).

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