Essay on Setting in Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour

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Elements of Setting in Kate Chopin's Short Story, "The Story of an Hour"

Setting exists in every form of fiction, representing elements of time, place, and social context throughout the work. These elements can create particular moods, character qualities, or features of theme. Throughout Kate Chopin's short story "The Story of an Hour," differing amounts and types of the setting are revealed as the plot develops. This story deals with a young woman's emotional state as she discovers her own independence in her husband's death, then her "tragic" discovery that he is actually alive. The constituents of setting reveal certain characteristics about the main character, Louise Mallard, and are functionally important to the story
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The "breath of rain" seems to cleanse Louise as well, as she views this as a way to start her life afresh. In this story, the time of year somewhat symbolizes her own internal springtime, further developing the rationale behind her character. If this story took place in a different time of year, it would not be as coherent. There would be no explanation for Louise's sudden attitude reversal from mourning to enlightened anticipation of the future.

The Mallards' house, the area where the entire action of the story takes place, is extremely significant in understanding the subtleties of the plot and characters. The house is two stories tall, with two main rooms shown in detail: the front parlor, which is downstairs, and Louise's bedroom, upstairs. The two floors are significantly different, both in the mood and in the emotions brought out in each one. It is in the parlor that Louise first hears of her husband's death and later ultimately discovers that he lives. Yet she achieves true enlightenment and understanding upstairs, in her bedroom. The particular level of the house that Louise is in conveys certain emotions and reveals two different aspects of her character. Downstairs she is the good wife, mourning the loss of her husband at first and later swooning from what the doctors believe to be "joy that kills" (14). Downstairs she must act like the typical late-nineteenth-century woman, completely
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