Irony In “The Story Of An Hour”: Unveiling The Hidden Emotions

Introduction: Kate Chopin’s Use of Irony in “The Story of an Hour”

Kate Chopin In ‘The Story of an Hour’ uses irony throughout her writing by having the audience believe Mrs. Mallard is starting to live her life, then she dies, also when her sister and friends assume Mrs. Mallard is in love with her husband and his death does not bring much sorrow. A very dull and boring story can be made into a great story simply by adding something that is unexpected to happen. When the unexpected is used in literature, it is known as irony. The author uses irony to shock the reader by adding a twist to the story. The author of “The Story of an Hour” is Kate Chopin. Her use of irony in the story is incredibly done more than once. Irony is thinking or believing some event will happen, but in return, the unexpected or opposite occurs.

Types of Irony in “The Story of an Hour”

Kate Chopin uses two types of irony in this short story. Situational irony refers to the opposite of what is supposed to happen, and dramatic irony occurs when the audience or reader knows something that the rest of the characters in the story do not know. Kate Chopin does a great job of placing irony into this short story and makes the reader understand that the unexpected happens in life.

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There are few characters in this story, but they all play an important part. The characters are Mrs. Mallard, Josephine, Richards, and Brently Mallard. Mrs. Mallard and Brently Mallard are married and live together in the house where the story takes place in. Josephine is Mrs. Mallard’s sister, and she is the one who would break the news to her about Brently Mallard’s death in the railroad accident. Finally, Richards is Brently Mallard’s good friend, and he is the one who found out about Brently Mallard’s death.

The setting of the story takes place in Mallard’s house. It seems to me that the house is old and very comfortable. I think this because after Mrs. Mallard finds out about her husband’s death, she goes to her room, and the narrator says, “There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank.”(157) This shows that the furniture is old and worn because most furniture takes a while before it can be worn is so when sat on it will sink in.

Irony’s Impact on Mrs. Mallard’s Character

Throughout the whole short story “The Story of an Hour,” the reader sees’ irony, but the best usage of irony occurs toward the end of the story in the last few paragraphs. As the reader reads the story, they notice that Mrs. Mallard’s husband, Brently Mallard, died in a railroad disaster. The reader also finds out that Mrs. Mallard has heart trouble, and great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death. (157) There are two people who take that great care and tell her the bad news. Those two people are Mrs. Mallard’s sister Josephine and Brently Mallard’s friend Richards. Then the best usage of irony occurs. The reader sees the first reaction to Mrs. Mallard’s husband’s death. Josephine would tell her the news, and Mrs. Mallard takes it pretty hard. The author Kate Chopin lets us know that she seems to take Brently Mallard’s death pretty hard by the words, “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms.” (157). They see that she is weeping, and she wants to be alone because she storms off to her room alone. (157) But then the reader reads, “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.” (157). This tells the reader that Mrs. Mallard feels something that is coming to her. Then Mrs. Mallard says softly, “Free, free, free!” (157) This event could be both dramatic and situational. It could be dramatic because only the reader or audience knows the true feelings Mrs. Mallard has for her husband, while all of the characters are not in the room with her and do not know her true feelings.

This excerpt of the small story could also be situational because most people would think that when a spouse dies, there would be grief and pain felt rather than the joy of being free from her husband. Only the reader knows that this is not the case for Mrs. Mallard because she is feeling freedom and has her own soul back, which she felt was taken away by her own husband. In this case, Kate Chopin makes the reader think one thing will occur, but the exact opposite will happen later in the story. Kate Chopin also makes the reader know that Mrs. Mallard will weep again at the funeral when she sees her pail dead husband lying there with a dull, lifeless look on his face.

The Unexpected Ending: Irony’s Final Revelation

Another case of irony is seen at the very end of the story. The reader knows that inside, Mrs. Mallard feels free and happy to live alone in the years to come, but the characters do not know this is what Mrs. Mallard is feeling. Then another unexpected happens. The story says, “Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey.”(158). The audience and the character are now thinking about who this could be and who would have the latchkey to the Mallard’s house. Then this is introduced “It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his gripsack and umbrella.” (158).

The reader now sees that Brently Mallard is not dead and was not even involved in the railroad disaster that occurred. Knowing that Mrs. Mallard has heart trouble, Richards tries to screen Mrs. Mallard’s view of Brently to prevent a heart attack of some sort. Richards winds up being too late, and Mrs. Mallard dies. Nothing is said when the audience finds out that Mrs. Mallard is dead, but “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of joy that kills.” (158) Kate Chopin’s ending to this story is amazing because the reader knows that Mrs. Mallard doesn’t die because of a plain heart attack or out of excitement to see her husband and to know that he is still alive, but she rather died because she saw her life without her husband and felt that she would have a much better life without him in it. While the reader knows Mrs. Mallard’s true death, the characters believe she died of excitement. The wording of the very last sentence in the story is just brilliant. It is so brilliant because it lets the audience know her real death and what the characters in the story thought her death was.

Conclusion: The Power of Irony in “The Story of an Hour”

Without irony in a story, it may be very boring and easy to put the story down. With irony included in the story, the reader does not want to put the book down and stays interested throughout the entire story because irony makes the reader want to know what is going to happen next because they can’t guess it. Kate Chopin uses irony to perfection in this short story. She does this by using irony to let the reader better understand the purpose and meaning of the story. Without the irony in this story, it would be dull and boring, but with irony, the story has suspense and unexpected events. This story was not like other stories that you usually read. It was not predictable at all. I love the vivid imagery throughout the whole story. I like this story because you can not really predict what is going to happen. When you can predict, it usually ruins the story. It kept you wondering about how it was going to end.

References

  1. Eble, Kenneth. “Irony in ‘The Story of an Hour’”. American Literary Realism, vol. 7, no. 2, 1974, pp. 233-237. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27746471.

  2. Giorcelli, Cristina. “Mrs. Mallard’s ‘Heart Trouble’ and the Death of a Marriage in Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour’”. Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 41, no. 4, 2004, pp. 281-286. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/ssf.2004.0032.

  3. Papke, Mary E. “The Story of an Hour: Overview”. Reference Guide to Short Fiction, edited by Noelle Watson, St. James Press, 1994, Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1420003869/LitRC?u=anon~4e896bce.

 

My Philosophy In Life As A Student Of Early Childhood Education

Introduction

Since the fifteen hundreds, education for children has progressed extremely. In the mid-fifteen hundreds, John Comenius invented the first picture book for children. Though it seems to be a minuscule thing in history, it was a giant step for children’s education. This influenced my philosophy because I believe that it is very important for children to learn in creative ways, such as playing, looking at pictures, etc. I think that the new way of teaching is becoming less and less about play and more about memorizing facts. Comenius created the picture book, which helped children become more childlike and less viewed as miniature adults. John Locke also helped this idea become known when he created the idea that children are born neutral and not evil.

Children think much more simply than adults, so they learn in simpler ways, such as playing. Friedrich Froebel, who lived from 1782 to 1852, discovered that play should be the primary way that children learn. Playing helps them become more independent and work on their motor skills. They also have to use problem-solving for some toys or games. Children are able to expand their minds when they find a way of learning that they consider fun. In the late 1800s, John Dewey’s theories changed education forever. Dewey solidified the idea that children learn best through interactive activities or “hands-on” activities. His theories influenced teachers to do more than teach and instead to guide and assist students in other ways. Dewey mainly influenced my philosophy because I want to change the current way that education is being pursued in America. I believe there should be more interactive activities, more play, and less homework. So, when I begin my practice in the Early Education field, I will refer to Dewey’s theories in what activities I use with my students or clients. I will also make sure that play is the main source of learning until children become a bit older, but I still believe that playing in some way, such as games or in-class projects, or crafts, can be beneficial for any age of the student.

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Exploring Early Childhood Education Programs

There are many programs offered in early childhood education. Some programs are new, and there are some that have been around for a decent amount of time. Some of these programs include Head Start, TK (transitional kindergarten), Group Child Care, Family Child Care, Montessori schools, Parent Co-Op preschools, etc. All of these programs have benefits that differ, and parents or guardians must decide what is best for their children.

For some people, they do not have all of the options that big cities or wealthy people have. When I was aged three through eight, I lived in a small town where my mother’s only option was a small Family Child Care daycare. The daycare was run in a mobile home with a small playground and only a few rooms. I stayed there usually until six PM, when my mother would pick me up. We did a lot of playing, watching television, doing homework, napping, and doing art. After a few years, the woman running the daycare introduced us to small workbooks where we would have learning activities that included reading and writing. Though it was not the best or safest environment, the children and myself received some education and learned social skills. If I could pick my early childhood education program, I would have placed myself in a Montessori school and then moved on to first grade and up in a normal public school.

I believe that Montessori schools are very beneficial for children because they focus on hands-on learning. They have very interactive activities, and the children do not feel forced to learn but instead are curious and want to learn. Montessori schools usually group together children of varying ages, which helps the children develop socially. Children go at their own pace, though they are still guided by their teacher. This is helpful because I believe that all children are different and learn at different paces and in different ways. I believe that the subjects that normal schools teach should still be taught, such as math, English, social studies, science, etc., but the Montessori approach might be better for some children to learn these subjects.

Since everyone is different, Montessori schools may not be the best for everyone. Also, teachers always make a difference. Teachers that love their job and love to teach may have more successful students than a teacher that is the opposite. They can also be more expensive, so Montessori is not an option for everyone. I also think Head Start and TK can really help children and parents to be successful.

Early Childhood is usually defined as a child between the age of zero (birth) and eight years old. During this time, a child is developing in many different ways, such as physically, cognitively, emotionally, etc. There are many theorists that discuss the different stages that children go through during development. Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson are two of the most well-known theorists when talking about early childhood development.

Sigmund Freud focused on the development of children in sexual terms, which is how he came up with his Psychosexual Theory. Some people believe he was correct in his theory, but most people believe he was incorrect. Still, there is a lot to learn from Freud, and that is why his stages are still studied. Erik Erikson discovered his Psychosocial Theory, which was much less focused on sexual stages and more on how children were socialized. For example, Erikson’s first stage is called Trust vs. Mistrust. This is while children are babies, and if they are treated a certain way by their parents or caregivers, they either become trusting children and adults or mistrusting. This goes for all of Erikson’s stages; it is either one way or another, depending on how they are treated. Freud theorized that if a child had an issue in their psychosexual stage, such as the first where they receive pleasure orally from eating and sucking, they would become stuck or fixated on that stage and develop habits that could be detrimental to their health or happiness.

Early Childhood is an important time because children are developing very quickly. Things that happen to them in this part of their life can affect them forever. It is important that children during these ages are treated right and given a good education so that they can expand on it as they get older. Children that are brought up correctly and meet all of the positive options in Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory have a better chance of leading a happy, successful life. Children that meet the negative option of Erikson’s theory may still lead happy, successful lives, but it may be more difficult for them.

Features of children in Early Childhood include their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth and development, as well as their motor skills. All children are different, and some have special needs in these categories, so they may require different methods of rearing and teaching than other children.

It is important for anyone going into work with children during the ages of zero to eight because without the knowledge of the stages and development that they are going through, teachers, parents, and anyone working with them may not know how to correctly guide, teach, or help them. It is severely important to know what children can and cannot do at certain ages so they do not have too much or too little asked of them. Child workers should know everything they can about Early Childhood so that they can help children be the best that they can be.

Early Childhood Education has been influenced by many theorists and their practices. One of the most popular theorists is Sigmund Freud, who developed the Psychosexual Theory, which consists of five stages which are: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latent, and Genital. Though his theory is often questioned, I believe it is important because it is the basis of child development theories. Other theorists worked to improve this theory or disprove it, which led to great discoveries in child development. Without Freud, people may not have been thinking as deeply or as much about child development. Some organizations or companies still apply Freud’s theory to their work, and I believe I could use his theories to better understand why children do certain things.

After Freud came Erik Erikson, who developed a theory similar to Freud’s. Erikson’s theory is the Psychosocial Theory, which also consists of stages, like Freud’s, but is non-sexual and focused on social and emotional factors. Erikson’s theory is relevant today and very well known. His theory is one of my favorites because I truly believe it to be true based on what I have seen in my life and others. I could use his theory to understand what stage children I work with are in and how I can positively affect which side they end up in Erikson’s stages. For example, infants are in the Trust vs. Mistrust stage, according to Erikson. Therefore, I would want to practice techniques and actions that push infants toward being trusting.

Another great theorist is Jean Piaget, famous for his four stages of development, which include the sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operations, and formal operations. Piaget’s theory really helped teachers and others understand what children are capable of and influenced practices to be more developmentally appropriate. His research would change the teaching world and child development forever. I would apply his beliefs to my practice in the field by always using developmentally appropriate practices and making sure I knew what children would be capable of, and pushing them to use their abilities but not too far so that they might become discouraged.

Professional Commitment in Early Childhood Education

Teachers must have a Professional Commitment to teaching. This includes their students, the school, programs, and learning in general. Most teachers have to continue going to school while teaching or go back to school while they teach so that they can be up to date on new information that is being taught to students or new methods of teaching.

When someone starts teaching, they should be committed to their students. Students, especially in Early Childhood, tend to become very attached to their teachers. This means that teachers cannot miss classes a lot or ignore the students when they need help. Sometimes it can be hard to commit to a student that just seems to not grasp a concept or has challenging behaviors, but teachers need to look past temporary issues and continue working with the students so that they can improve themselves and continue to learn.

Committed teachers should also be helping out in after-school programs or helping out in the community to show that they are committed to the school district. Teaching is not a regular job; it is just as important as being a doctor or firefighter. Teachers save lives in a different way by ensuring that children have everything that they need to succeed and do not end up in dangerous situations.

Other professionals in the Early Childhood field, such as therapists, also need to have a commitment to the children that they work with. Children in any setting need people that are committed to them so that they may have stability and a strong basis for their learning and improvement throughout life.

Observation and Assessment in Early Childhood Education

In Early Childhood Education, people use observations and assessments to learn about children’s personalities, discover their skill levels, and study the methods children use to attain their wants or needs. There are many different types of observations and assessments so that people may get a very in-depth and holistic view of what children do and why.

Some of these methods include anecdotal records, running records, learning stories, jottings, sociograms, time samples, event samples, work samples, and photographs. All of these observation strategies are important because they can help people assess a specific behavior or assess something broad. Observing can also prove to be beneficial for anyone that is looking to make sure that early childhood programs are appropriate and fitting for the children.

There is no “best” observation method; it just depends on what the observer is trying to learn. If someone is trying to track a specific behavior and when it happens, they might want to use a time or event sample. If someone is trying to study the social aspect of children, they might want to use a sociogram, which is a map of a child’s social life, including friends and family. A learning story might help someone learn about many different things, including social life and the decisions a child makes, and the consequences that follow after. Running records and anecdotal records can be studying something specific or not and are very thorough.

All observation techniques are important to make sure that people can study children and their settings to make sure that everything is operating correctly and smoothly and to study children’s behaviors.

Building Strong Relationships with Parents for Student Success

In teaching and parenting, children require guidance. There are many different guidance strategies that work for most children. Since everyone is different, some strategies may be more effective than others. Teachers, parents, or anyone that works with children must determine what the appropriate strategy is for the child based on age, situation, and goal.

Most strategies are based on inductive guidance principles. Inductive guidance is “A guidance process in which children are held accountable for their actions and are called on to think about the impact of their behavior on others. Reasoning and problem-solving skills are stressed” (Beginning Essentials in Early Childhood Education 2016). I believe it is important to hold children accountable for their actions because if they do not realize that their actions have consequences early in life, then they may become destructive adults. I think discipline is a very important concept and can dramatically improve a child’s behavior. Punishment is sometimes necessary but must be carefully navigated so as not to damage a child emotionally or physically. I believe that the power-assertive method of guidance is not as effective as more positive guidance strategies might be because the power-assertive method uses fear and harsh punishments to make a child act a desired way. I believe this method is not as effective because, in the long run, the child may become an emotionally unstable person.

Conclusion

Positive and negative reinforcement seem to both be effective in guiding a child to better behaviors. Positive reinforcement is to give a child something. This is not always a good thing, as it could be giving them a spanking or chores. Negative reinforcement is to take something away from a child, which I think sometimes works better with children. The best way to help a child act correctly and not become destructive is to use discipline. When I have children, whether they are my own or in a classroom, I will first make a set of rules. I will explain why they should act a certain way or do a certain thing before it comes to punishment. It seems that it would be more effective to talk about the problem before it happens. Therefore the children know what the consequence will be and why it is bad to do a certain thing or behave a certain way.

Building and having relationships with parents is essential to being successful in any child-care position. It is important because, without a strong foundation with a parent, a child may receive all of the benefits that they can get from a teacher. Parents have the option to pull their child out of any program at any time if they do not feel like the teacher or the program itself is fit for the child. Parents can be easily offended if a teacher tries to tell them how they should be parents or what measures they should take to correct or assist their child. It is also much easier to talk to a parent about an accident.

References

  1. Comenius, J. A. (1658). Orbis Sensualium Pictus. London, UK: John Kersey.

  2. Dewey, J. (1915). Democracy and Education. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.

  3. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

  4. Freud, S. (1905). Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Vienna, Austria: Franz Deuticke.

  5. Froebel, F. (1885). The Education of Man. New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company.

  6. Piaget, J. (1969). The Psychology of the Child. New York, NY: Basic Books.

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