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ANGLOPHONE LITERATURE I - 2020 “THE STORY OF AN HOUR” by Kate Chopin – READING GUIDE
READ THE TEXT CLOSELY AND LOOK UP UNKNOWN WORDS IN THE DICTIONARY
UNDERLINE ANY WORD, PHRASE OR SENTENCE YOU CONSIDER RELEVANT. THIS WILL HELP YOU CONNECT DIFFERENT ELEMENTS LATER ON.
WRITE A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE PLOT
1. Who is the protagonist of this story? Describe her. Who are the secondary characters? What role do they have in the story? What important information do they reveal? 2. What kind of characterization does the author use in this story? 3. Whose point of view do we have in the story? Is it the same all through the story? 4. What is the setting of the story? Remember to consider both time and place. 5. What is the nature of Mrs. Mallard’s “heart trouble”? Why do you think the author mentions this in the first paragraph of the story? 6. Read the following passage:
“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. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves” What does the landscape through the open window mean for Mrs. Mallard? What kind of sensory images does this passage contain? What can they be associated with? 7. What kind of relationship do the Mallards have? Is Brentley unkind to Louise? What, do you think, is the reason she cries out “Free, free, free!” when she hears about her husband’s death? 8. After receiving the news, Louise closes the door to her room. Yet, she leaves the window open. Why, do you think, Chopin makes a point in telling the reader this? How does this relate to questions 6 and 7 in connection with the idea of being/feeling free or imprisoned? Do other words, sentences or passages in the story relate to this idea? 9. Louise is described as “descending the stairs as a goddess of victory”. In what way(s) does she feel victorious? 10. The setting of the story is very limited; it is confined largely to a room, a staircase, and a front door. How does this limitation help to express the themes of the story?
11. The last line of the story is “When the doctors came they said she died of heart disease – of joy that kills”. Can we say this is an ironic statement? Why (not)? What kind of irony is this? 12. What view of marriage does the author present in this story? Remember “The Story of an Hour” was published in 1894. Does it only represent a perspective of marriage bonds and women and men’s roles within this institution in the 19th century or could they equally apply to attitudes to marriage today? 13. This story is considered to be “the story of a symbolic journey”. Being this the case, where does Louise “travel”? 14. What are the internal and external forces Louise is in conflict with? (other characters, setting, her own thoughts and social codes) 15. How do tone and mood reflect the cultural and social mores of the time? Think again about social and cultural conventions as regards the institution of marriage and the roles of women and men. 16. Considering everything you have analyzed about this story state, in a few words, its main theme. 17. List and explain the symbols introduced by Chopin in this story. 18. In one or two paragraphs, apply the principles of Psychoanalytic or Freudian theory to “The Story of an Hour”. First, read the information provided by Dr. Saul McLeod in “Simply Psychology: Id, Ego and Superego” in www.simplypsychology.org Consider that, at different moments, Louise is driven by the different systems or parts of her mind. Identify these moments and provide examples from the text. 19. Would you say this story can be described as “realistic fiction”? Do some research on your own and give an opinion justifying your answer.