Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
Deconstructing the meaning of “death” in Kate Chopins “The Story of an Hour”
As a method of literary analysis, deconstruction seeks to generate layers of meanings that are both latent and manifest within a literary work. More often, it is through deconstruction that leads the reader to identify a specific theme found in a work. Kate Chopins “The Story of an Hour” provides symbolic meanings that provide the readers with awareness about the state of gender equality that was yet to be fully recognized in Chopins society (during the 19th century).
In this paper, the researcher seeks to create a literary analysis using the method of deconstruction, wherein a particularly striking word found within the literary text was taken, and themes and discussion of the words relation to the story and its characters are generated. One primary emergent theme that prevails throughout the story is the authors concept of freedom, taken from the points-of-view of Chopin as well as the main character, Louise Mallard. However, despite the prevalence of this theme, the researcher decided to choose a word that is significant, yet subtly given importance to both the characters and the context in which the story was written.
Thus, the word “death” is chosen as the point of analysis and discussion in this paper. The primary objective of this deconstruction analysis is to determine how the signifier, which is the word “death,” paves the way for the creation of themes that would best describe the purpose of the author (Chopin) in writing “The Story of an Hour.” In the texts that follow, both figurative and literary meanings of death are given, in relation to the characters and plot of the story.
In this analysis, the researcher posits that the signifier (death) provides an alternative avenue for Chopin to subtly express her disagreement, even protest, on the persistence of inequality between males and females in 19th century Western society.
One literary meaning given to death is “end of something,” which, in human society, meant the end of life. Indeed, the signifier was signified in the story initially by Brently Mallard, Louises husband who was allegedly included in the list of railroad workers who had an accident. Death in relation to Brently was manifested in the word “killed,” which also marked the beginning of Louises rebirth as an individual, a point that will be discussed in analyzing the signifiers figurative meanings.
Death was also signified by Louise. As the primary character of the story, she had experienced the real death, where at the end of the story, she ended up having an attack that left her dead. Brently, who was purportedly dead, was in fact alive;.