"The Story of An Hour"
Kate Chopin Bio

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, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband's friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard's name leading the list of "killed." He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.

She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.

There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.

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.

There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.

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.

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.

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 bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will --as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been. When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!" 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.

She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial. 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. 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 during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.

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!

"Free! Body and soul free!" she kept whispering.

Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhold, imploring for admission. "Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door-- you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the door."

"Go away. I am not making myself ill." No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.

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. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.

She arose at length and opened the door to her sister's importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister's waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.

Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.

But Richards was too late.

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease --of the joy that kills.


Plot Summary

Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is the story of an hour in the life of Mrs. Louise Mallard, a young woman whose wrinkles portray “repression” and “strength.” As the story begins, the narrator reveals that Mrs. Mallard has “heart trouble.” Her sister Josephine and her husband’s friend Richards have come to her after hearing of a railroad disaster that has resulted in the death of Mr. Mallard. Both are concerned that the news will make Mrs. Mallard ill and Josephine takes great care to tell her the news as cautiously as she is able.

Mrs. Mallard reacts to the news with “sudden, wild abandonment” and locks herself in her bedroom. In the solitude of her room Mrs. Mallard understands the fundamental change taking place in her life. She sits in a chair, no longer crying, looking out the window at the “new spring life.” She “suspendfs] intelligent thought” and fearfully waits for a “subtle and elusive” idea to “possess her.” She begins to comprehend that she is joyful that her husband is dead, but she attempts to suppress the thought.

Once Mrs. Mallard accepts the feeling, even though she knows that her husband had really loved her, she is ecstatic that she will never have to bend her will to his again. Now that her husband is dead, she will be free to assert herself in ways she never before dreamed while he was alive. She recognizes that she had loved her husband sometimes, but that now she would be “Free! Body and soul free!” She begins to look forward to the rest of her life when just the day before she shuddered at the thought of it.

Mrs. Mallard leaves her room and rejoins her sister who has been outside the door worrying. She carries herself “like a goddess of Victory” as she joins her sister to return downstairs where Richards still waits. On their way down the stairs, they hear the front door open and see Mr. Mallard walk in. He had been no where near the accident scene. The short story ends with the abrupt death of Mrs. Mallard, whose heart gives out. Her doctors explain that she died “of joy that kills.”

Characterization, Tone, and Setting in The Story of an Hour

1 The theme of “The Story of an Hour” is do not believe everything that is told to you until you see it yourself. This story is understood better when you focus on these three critical concepts, characterization, tone and setting.

2 First off is characterization, which is important for what is upcoming at the end of the story. To understand this you must understand the character of Louise Mallard. Louise was young looking with fair skin and a calm face, who spoke repression and some strength. [?] She also has a heart problem, which means the death of her husband has to be broken to her as gently as possible. But now [?] there is nothing but a dull stare gazing into the patches of blue sky as if she was in intelligent thought.

3 The second of the three critical concepts I am using is tone. Tone is the prevailing attitude as perceived by the reader. Attitudes I got from reading this story were sad and shocked. The sad part is when her husband had died in a railroad disaster. It was her sister who had, with broken sentences, slowly told her that he had died. Mr. m[M]allard's friend Richard was also there at the time to assist Josephine in breaking the bad news. After they had told her, she had looked [?] herself in her room and stared out the window. The second attitude was shocked this was how I felt at the end of the story. [CS - 1] The reason I did is when Josephine finally got Louise to come out of her room and come back downstairs. [Frag -1] On the way downstairs the front door opened and in walked Mr. Mallard who was supposedly dead. The sight of him shocked Louise so much that it had caused her to have a heart attack and die. This was shocking to me because they had said that he had died in a railroad accident and the second telegram confirmed it. But Mr. Mallard had said that he was now were [nowhere; Hostage 50] near the supposed accident even though [?] he did not even hear about one.

4 The third and final concept is setting. Setting is the time and place that a story takes place. This story takes place in the 1900’s in Mrs. Mallard's house with Louise, Josephine and Richard. The majority of the story takes place in a specific part of the house, Louis’s bedroom.[Relevance to your thesis?]

5 My feeling toward this story is that it was a pretty short story with some detail. Although the store [sic] could have been expanded a little more with more description and detail.

Although the writer dealt with three concepts, not one of them is related to the writer's thesis. The thesis itself is poor because there is not much in the story to support it. This does not mean that the thesis statement is not true. Obviously, in this story, seeing is believing. But that is just the trouble -- the thesis is obvious. As a result, no discussion of characterization, tone, or setting can be used to support it. The writer of this essay is perfectly capable of doing acceptable work, but simply did not put in the time and effort. (See the log below -- and remember that I graded the paper before I looked at the log.)

ترجمه داستان

داستان يک ساعت:
با اطلاع از آنکه خانم ملارد Mallard مشکل قلبي دارد، توجه ويژه‌اي شد تا خبر مرگ همسرش را در آهسته‌ترين حالت ممکن به او بگويند.

اين جوزفين Josephine، خواهرش بود که با جملاتي دست و پا شکسته و اشاراتي پنهان که مخفيانه آشکار ميشد، خبر را گفت. دوستِ همسرش، ريچاردز Richards هم آنجا بود، نزد خانم ملارد. و او کسي بود که هنگام رسيدن خبر حادثه‌ي راه‌آهن، به انضمام اسم برنتلي ملارد Brently Mallard در بالاي ليست اسامي کشته شدگان، در دفتر روزنامه بود، و تنها به اندازه‌اي به خودش وقت داد که با تلگراف بعدي از حقيقتِ امر مطمئن شود، تا آورنده‌ي خبر بد اشتباهي نباشد.

خانم ملارد، داستان را به دفعات کمتر از باقي زن‌ها شنيد، و به موازات‌ش در اهميت پذيرش خبر ناتوان بود. ناگهان گريه کرد و خودش را در دست‌هاي خواهرش رها کرد. وقتي طوفان غم گذشت، تنها به اتاق‌ش رفت؛ کسي را نداشت که به دنبالش بيايد.

ايستاد؛ در مقابل پنجره‌ي باز و صندلي دسته‌دار راحتي بزرگ. در آن فرو رفت. با خستگي فيزيکي که پيوسته در بدن‌ش بود و ظاهراً به روحش رسيده بود، به پايين فرو رفت.

مي‌توانست در چارچوب مربع‌شکل روبه‌روي خانه‌ش، نوکِ درختاني را ببيند که با زندگي جديدِ بهاري تکان مي‌خوردند. هواي لذيذ باراني جريان داشت، در خيابان پاييني، دست‌فروشي اجناس خود را جار مي‌زد. نت‌هاي شعري که کسي آن را در دوردست مي‌سرود، به سختي به او مي‌رسيد. گنجشکان بي‌شماري بر لبه‌ي بام چه‌چه مي‌زدند.

تکه‌هايي از آسمان آبي اينجا و آنجا نمايان بود؛ در ميان ابرهايي که در سمت غرب پنجره‌ش به هم مي‌رسيدند و بر هم توده مي‌شدند.

با دستاني که به کوسن پشت صندلي حلقه شده بود، ساکت و بي‌حرکت نشست. مگر زماني که بغضي راه گلو را پيش گرفت و او را تکان داد، مانند کودکي که از گريه به خواب رفته و در روياهاش هم به گريه ادامه داده بود.

جوان بود، با صورتي زيبا و آرام، که خط‌هايش نشان از سرکوب و حتا قدرتي خاص داشت. اما اکنون نگاهي خالي بر چشمان‌ش بود که در دوردست، به تکه ابري از آسمان آبي خيره شده بود. نگاهي متفکرانه نبود، بلکه بيشتر حاکي از سردرگمي افکار هوشمندانه بود.

چيزي به سراغش مي‌آمد و او با ترس به انتظارش مي‌نشست. آن چه بود؟ نمي‌دانست؛ چيزي تيز و به دور از هر عنوان. اما آن را احساس مي‌کرد. از آسمان، و از ميان صداها، عطر و رنگي که هوا را پر کرده بود، به سمت او مي‌خزيد.

سينه‌ش گلگون و پرآشوب شد. داشت آغاز به فهميدن آن چيزي مي‌کرد که به قصد تصاحب به او نزديک مي‌شد، و سعي مي‌کرد آن را به خواست خود، عقب براند --به ناتواني دو دست باريک سفيدش.

زماني که خود را کمي رها کرد، نجوايي از لبانش، که کمي از هم جدا بود، گريخت. بارها و بارها آن را زير لب ادا کرد: «آزادي، آزادي، آزادي!» نگاه خالي و ظاهر دهشتناکي که او را دنبال کرده بود، از چشمانش رفت. چشم‌ها تيز و درخشان بودند. نبض‌ش به تندي زد، و جريان خون هر سانت از بدن‌ش را گرم و آرام کرد.

متوقف نشد تا از خود بپرسد آيا اين يک شادي غول‌پيکر بود که او را فرا مي‌گرفت يا نه. درک عالي و صريح، او را قادر ساخت تا چنين اظهار عقيده‌اي را ناچيز بشمارد.

مي‌دانست که با ديدن دستان مهربان و لطيفي که براي سوگواري در هم جفت شده‌اند، و چهره‌ي ثابت، طوسي و مُرده‌اي که هيچ گاه عشقي را در خود نگه نداشت، خواهد گريست. اما در وراي آن لحظات تلخ، سال‌هاي طولاني پيش رو را ديد که تنها به خودِ او تعلق داشت. و آغوش‌ش را به خوش‌آمدگويي به آنان گشود.

در سال‌هاي آينده، کسي وجود نخواهد داشت تا براي او زندگي کند؛ براي خودش خواهد زيست. اراده‌ي قدرتمندي، با آن اصرار غيرمنظقي، خواست او را منحرف نمي‌کرد، اصراري که زن و مرد باور داشتند داراي حق تحميل کردن نظر شخصي خود بر هم‌نوع خود هستند. تمايلي مهربان يا تمايلي بي‌رحم باعث شد اين رفتار وقتي در آن دقايق کوتاه روشنگر به آن نگريست، به مثل يک گناه به نظر برسد.

و هنوز او را دوست داشت --گه‌گاهي. اغلب اوقات نه. چه اهميتي داشت؟! عشق، راز ناگشوده، در مقابل اين دارايي دفاع از خود، که ناگهان آن را به عنوان قوي‌ترين انگيزه‌ي بودن‌ش شناخت، چه ارزشي مي‌توانست داشته باشد؟!

به زمزمه ادامه داد: «بدنِ آزاد و روح آزاد!»

جوزفين در مقابل در بسته زانو زده بود؛ لبان‌ش را بر سوراخ کليد قرار داده بود و براي وارد شدن التماس مي‌کرد. «لوسي Louise، در رُ باز کن! خواهش مي‌کنم، در رُ باز کن --خودت رُ مريض مي‌کني. لوسي داري چه کار مي‌کني؟ به خاطر خدا در رُ باز کن.»

«دور شو. خودمو مريض نمي‌کنم.» نه؛ او در حال نوشيدن اکسير زندگي از ميان پنجره‌ي باز بود.

تصورات‌ش با فتنه‌برانگيزي از ميان روزهاي آينده مي‌گذشت. روزهاي بهاري، و روزهاي تابستان، و هر نوع روز ديگري که به او تعلق داشت. دعا کرد که زندگي طولاني باشد. همين ديروز بود که با فکر آن که زندگي شايد طولاني باشد بر خود لرزيده بود.

با قدرت برخاست و در را به روي اصرارهاي خواهرش گشود. پيروزي تب‌داري در چشمانش بود و بي‌توجه، مانند الهه‌ي پيروزي حرکت مي‌کرد. کمر خواهرش را در آغوش گرفت و با هم از پلکان پايين آمدند. ريچاردز پايين منتظرشان ايستاده بود.

کسي در جلويي را با کليد باز مي‌کرد. برنتلي ملارد بود که کثيف از گرد و غبار سفر، در حالي که ساک و چترش را در دست داشت، وارد شد. او از صحنه‌ي حادثه دور بوده، و حتا نمي‌دانست که چُنين اتفاقي افتاده است. مبهوت به گريه‌ي بلند جوزفين نگاه مي‌کرد، به حرکت سريع ريچاردز که مانع ديد شد و خود را جلوي همسرش قرار داد.

اما ريچاردز دير جنبيد.

زماني که دکترها آمدند، گفتند که از بيماري قلبي مُرده --از شادي که مي‌کُشد.


تاريخ : شنبه بیست و سوم مهر ۱۳۹۰ | ۱۶:۴۵ بعد از ظهر | نویسنده : ر |
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