The theme of a story are the ideas behind the story. The themes are often portrayed by the literary elements found within the story. Setting, tone and symbolism are some of the literary elements which helped to develop the theme found in The Story of an Hour. According to Glutton a “setting is the time or place in which the action occurs” (2010). The setting for The Story of an Hour is in the nineteenth century and the action takes place in the Mallard’s home and is a tale of a relationship.
During this time in the nineteenth century men were said to have complete control over their wives. Women are submissive to their husbands. Men are the dominant ones. Men hold all the power. Tone has been defined as an “attitude reflected by the author in a literary work; it identifies the author’s approach to the subject a Story deals with” (Glutton, 2010). Tone can be formal, somber, solemn, intimate, angry, serious, light, playful, etc. Tone is also achieved through certain words, moods and characters.
The first paragraph has an example of tone where it speaks about Mrs.. Mallard being afflicted with heart trouble and her sister, Josephine, having to break the news of her husband’s death to her. This makes for a somber mood, sad tone. Symbolism is defined as something that has a literal identity, but also stands for something else. Symbolism was found throughout the story. One example was found in the statement after she had been told of her husband’s death. Mrs.. Mallard had wept in her sister’s arms.
It says that “when the storm of grief has spent itself she went away to her room alone. ” The storm is indicative of a turmoil of emotions. She was going through a mixture of emotions. On one hand she was devastated at the loss of her husband, but on the other hand she was feeling some excitement at the thought of independence. Another example is the open window from which Mrs.. Mallard gazes from. This is representative of freedom and the opportunities that she feels she will now be afforded after the death of her husband.
She hears the noises from Outside. She hears the birds singing. She sees the blue sky showing and the clouds. She sees a peddler below. These experiences are suggestive of spring which is symbolic for a new beginning which is what she is now looking forward to. According to Jamie, “because her emotions are no longer bottled, Louise Mallard attends to the sounds, the scents, and the lour” in the natural world, they teach her of the sounds, the scents, and the color within her own soul (2009). Mrs.. Mallard seems caught up with emotions.
She is excited about being free from a dominating life of marriage yet she realizes that she has not finished grieving for her husband. She is looking forward to only being responsible for herself. She looks forward to being in charge of her own life. She realizes that there Will be no one to rule over her and in that moment she is joyful. For once, she is looking forward to a long life. Her sister wants to be let into the room, but Mrs.. Mallard assures her that she is okay. Her sister thinks that she is overcome with grief when in fact, Mrs.. Mallard has a grip on her emotions.
When she finally opens the door to allow her sister in as they head back downstairs, someone is trying to open the front door and in walks Mr.. Mallard. Josephine tries to block Mrs.. Mallard from seeing him, but it is too late. She obviously sees him and according to the doctor she dies of “the joy that kills. ” According to Rosenberg, “nothing can compensate Louise for the freedom that she lost by marrying. No matter how kind Mr.. Mallard has men, he still imposed his will on his wife” (2004). Therefore, his death is not tragic to her “because it gives her own life back to her ‘ (Rosenberg, 2004).
The Story of an Hour sets the stage for marriage back in the nineteenth century. Everybody approaches death in different ways. Mrs.. Mallard takes an unconventional approach to hearing about her husband’s death. She does grieve for a moment, but is then consumed with joy. She is not joyous about his death, but she is happy about the sudden loss of dependence upon him. She believes her future to be bright and she is happy about the things that she wants to do. She feels as if she will be able to take back control of her life.