Model Reading & Annotations (Story of an Hour)

Model Reading & Annotations (Story of an Hour) - An...

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An Acceptable Sample Reading: 1. Treats the question specifically posed on the exam (here: heart-trouble). Not answering the question is grounds for failing. You should always keep the question in sight throughout your reading. 2. Uses formal devices and literary techniques to illustrate the student’s understanding of how the story works , not just what the story means. 3. Relates the passage back to the topic, women in literature. Referenced in the first and last sentence of the story, Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble is both central to understanding her character while remaining peripheral in terms of the structure of the narrative. Through the twists of the story, the reader comes to understand that her heart trouble is both a literal, medical condition and a figurative turn of phrase that comes to epitomize Mrs. Mallard and her predicament—the “condition” of so many American women at the end of the Nineteenth Century. Heart trouble comes to represent a complex of contradictory feelings that coalesce in the character of Mrs. Mallard. As is befitting a contradiction, her heart trouble is characterized by two pivotal oxymorons in the passage: “monstrous joy” and the “joy that kills.” During a “suspension of intelligent thought” Mrs. Mallard’s “pulses beat fast” and “coursing blood warmed” her, implicating her heart in the paradoxical realization that her husband’s death, sad though it is, also represents a new birth. Her reaction is complicated and oxymoronic. The heart cannot help itself as it is not ruled by “intelligent thought” and the “trouble” arises when her heart is acts outside acceptable abounds—it is not behaving as it should. Her conflicted reaction to her husband’s death is characterized by the contradiction “monstrous joy.” She is genuinely saddened by his passing—to call her joy simply “monstrous” would be to “trivial[ize]” her feelings for her husband by flattening them out—but she is also genuinely looking forward to the years ahead of her (which the title ironizes) toward the new life her husband’s death will afford her. The story is very much concerned with the outer and inner life of the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard. The first sentence deliberately obscures the subject by using the passive voice; as such the reader has to do quite a bit of syntactical detective work to realize that Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble is ascribed to her by someone else —Josephine and Mr. Richards. Never once in the story does she acknowledge it herself. Josephine and Mr. Richards assume that Mrs. Mallard is a frail women on account of her condition, but when she is alone the narrator describes her as having “a certain strength.” Such private characterizations, away from the prying eyes of Josephine and Mr. Richards, indicate that they’re evaluation of Mrs. Mallard’s character is perhaps not as accurate
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Model Reading & Annotations (Story of an Hour) - An...

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