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Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin and ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant Character Analysis

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Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin and ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant Character Analysis essay
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Linguistic and structural devices both play a large part in how the female protagonists are presented by Chopin and Maupassant. Both women are unhappy with life, whether it be marriage or lack of wealth. Both stories introduce the characters early, without revealing much of their true identity, for example, Guy de Maupassant starts the story with “she was one of those”, almost objectifying the character by using the pronoun “she”, leaving her un named and without her identity – she could be any women. Also, they both have an unexpected twist which leaves the women means that the writer has, through their linguistic and structural devices, made the character seem worse off at the end.

The main theme in “The Story of an Hour” is the oppression of women in marriage, and their low place in society. This is shown by Mrs Mallard’s desire to live on her own, reliant on no one and away from her husband, who we presume to be a kind man as we aren’t told that he has done anything malicious or cruel.

Louise Mallard would have been a very relatable character for women of the late 1800’s, when they were also oppressed and had no place in society. However, she could also be seen as quite an unpleasant character as she takes great joy in the supposed death of her loving husband. We judge her character for this, and Chopin influences us to view her negatively by her portrayal of her joy. She is very interesting, as despite her “heart trouble” she reacts violently to the news of the ‘death’. Overall, she seems to be a varied and emotional character.

This story was written and set in 1894 America, which is why Louise Mallard is now looking forward to a free life which seemed otherwise unobtainable. In the third paragraph, when she has just found out that Brentley has died, she reacts very passionately, which, in a way, seems oddly over the top and perhaps too passionate. This is mirrored by the alliteration of “wept” and “wild”. Also, her reaction to the death seems forced, with the metaphor of “the storm of grief” implying this. The over used cliché creates a sense of an overreaction which doesn’t reflect on the characters true feelings, and reflects badly on Mrs Mallard, as we see her as concealing her true emotions and intentions, and thus deceitful.

After this, she collapses, alone into her armchair, where the foreboding words haunted body and soul leave us on edge, before she is very aggressive again as she sobs and throws her head back, as well as beating back something apparently trying to possess her. She also “sank, pressed down by physical exhaustion” showing how violently she had reacted, so much that she had completely tired herself out. The living imagery of the birds and blue sky and the “countless sparrows [that] were twittering in the eaves” symbolise her freedom as she is no longer tied down and can do what she wants, without having to get Brentley involved. The short conjunction “And yet she had loved him -sometimes. Often, she had not” shows why she reacts as she does- as she doesn’t truly love her husband, even though he is a fine man. Then we see our motif of the open window come back, perhaps suggesting freedom, and the availability of the whole world for her after Brentley’s death.

When she comes down the stairs with the simile “like a goddess of Victory” we question her, as her husband has just died but she is celebrating, which doesn’t paint her in a positive light. Finally, we know that the joy that kills Louise Mallard wasn’t the life of Brentley, but the death of Brentley instead. This shows Louise Mallard to be passionate and a little fake and frankly deserving of her death due to her “monstrous joy” at finding out about her husband’s death. The oxymoronic phrase reflects on the situation, for usually when someone dies it is a time to mourn not celebrate. Chopin also uses structural devices to present Louise Mallard and the story, like leaving the word death at the end of the paragraph to foreshadow the unfortunate turn of events that is about to occur and to determine the use of the word death.

Also, in line 42, death is also left to the end of the sentence, which has the same effect with greater emphasis being left on the sinister connotations. The semicolon in line 45 emphasises the importance of living for herself and finally we get the cycle as her heart trouble becomes a heart disease as she dies after catching sight of Brentley, and seeing her dreams being crushed.
“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant is similar in quite a few ways. I believe the theme of this story is honesty, and perhaps acceptance. Another possible theme is perception, as the diamond necklace looked more expensive as it was in a “black satinwood case”.

As the passage progresses, we see the character of Madame Loisel also develop, from an immature young woman who wanted a lot more, to a respected woman, before she had to repay the ghastly debt. We respect the portrayal Mathilde more than Louise, especially at the end where she “heroically” works along with her husband to repay their debt. “The Necklace” would have been set in France in the late 1800’s, so at a similar time to “Story of an Hour”, but in a different country. Maupassant was influenced by Gustave Flaubert, and many of their stories have similarities. There are many linguistic devices effectively used by Maupassant for example, early tricolons which instead of being positive, emphasise what she does not have, because “she had no dowry, no expectations, no means of meeting some rich important man who would understand, love and marry her”.

These two tricolons show she is dissatisfied and wants a lot more than she has. By telling us what she lacks, that is also what she desires. In addition, the negativity proves how little she believes she has. Also, the repetition of no shows how Maupassant presents Mathilde as having a very negative outlook on life by telling us what she does not have rather than the possessions that she does own. This is because we see what she doesn’t have, and that is what all the focus is on, rather than the things which she does have, and her husband takes pleasure in. Also, her extravagant descriptions of the fine clothing and house she would like, compared to her husband’s acceptance of the little he has emphasised her unhappiness and desire for more.

When there was a hint of wealth with the large envelope she “tore [it] eagerly” to express her hunger for recognition and admiration. The verb “tore” and adverb “eagerly” are both ‘hungry’ and emphasise the desire that Maupassant wants to have the character off Mathilde to possess. Then her ingratitude is shown, as all she thinks of is how she can’t go as she doesn’t have the right clothes or jewellery. Mr Loisel is “devastated”, due to her selfishness and this makes Mme Loisel seem needy and lacks gratitude. The short sentence “he was devastated” emphasises how much pity Maupassant wants us to feel for Mr Loisel. However, Mme Loisel is also annoyed and “looked at him irritably” because she did not have the right clothes.

This again emphasises how Maupassant has made the character seem ungrateful. So, Mr Loisel unselfishly sacrifices his shooting trip as he is a very good-natured man, so she can have the right clothes, and suggests he sees a friend to borrow some jewellery. She borrows a ‘diamond’ necklace, in an expensive satinwood case, so both she and the reader believe the necklace to be completely genuine. When she goes to the party, the emotive and elaborate language to show how absolutely everybody noticed her, even “the Minister himself”. While all of this happened, Mr Loisel, who is not even part of this spectacle, is a figure of pity. After this there is a huge contrast as they walk back, cold to a hackney cab, which seems drab and has connotations of poverty, like in the phrase “as if ashamed to parade their poverty”.

Then there is a real shift as the first sign of emotion from Mr Loisel is when he sits up thunderstruck by the loss of the necklace. The later simplistic storytelling is another contrast to the fantastic party they had with the minister and the language suggests a bleak future due to that small turning point of losing the necklace in the simile “her husband straightened up as if thunderstruck”. The choice of the powerful adjective “thunderstruck” emphasises how shocked Mr Loisel is at the loss of the necklace, and how he realises at this moment how their life will change. It is also the first sign of real emotion we see from either of them, indicating how their lives will change.

When Mme Loisel returns the new necklace, it is ironic and cruel that Mme Forestier seems annoyed at the delay. Then Mme Loisel adapts and learns from the situation and “heroically” resigns to her fate. The use of the word “heroically” by Maupassant helps present Mme Loisel as very determined, and for that, we admire her character. This is a very effective word choice by Maupassant and is, in a way, what defines Mme Loisel. We see her change and become a very mature and hard-working woman. Again, Maupassant uses a tricolon to emphasise what Mme Loisel is no longer, but Mme Forestier is “still young, still beautiful, and still attractive”. The repetition of “still” shows how Mme Loisel has thrown away what she used to have, while Mme Forestier still has everything she has always had, and what Mme Loisel could still be.

Finally, the surprise ending shocks us and has an impact, as we see if Mme Loisel had acted better, everything would have been so much easier, as they would have saved tens of thousands of francs. This portrays Madame Loisel as very proud, and as a result quite deceitful.
Overall, I think the presentation in ‘the Necklace’ is better, as far more is revealed about the personality of the character of Mme Loisel by Guy de Maupassant. However, the disapproving tones used on Louise Mallard effectively portray her as an unsavoury character, even if we see why she feels this way. Overall, we can sympathise with both women, and at the end we feel a little sorry for both, even if both their fates could have been avoided if the author had made them have done the right thing.

Commentary

I chose to use Kate Chopin’s ‘Story of an Hour’, as I feel the way that she portrayed her main character Louise Mallard was very interesting and there were many areas that I could explore in the presentation. The story line of the short story is easy to settle into, and also the plot twist at the end is very surprising. Overall, I felt that ‘Story of an Hour’ was a very good short story to analyse, as I could analyse different aspects.
The other short story I chose to include was ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant, where a young woman, Mme Loisel, tries to look rich, but then loses her friends necklace. After this she had to repair a huge debt, and again, there was a very surprising ending, as the necklace only cost 500 francs, not over 30,000 which is what the Loisel’s paid. I feel like Mme Loisel is very well portrayed by Maupassant, and acts “heroically”, and is easy to relate to.

I feel that these two short stories can be compared very easily, as both protagonists are female, both are unhappy and desire more, and finally, at the end, booth women end up in a situation worse than when they started. Overall, there are many ways to explore the presentation of the two characters, and due to the choices available, I felt that these two stories go well together.

However, I rejected 1 passage, ‘Significant Cigarettes’ by Rose Tremain, and two poems, namely ‘An Unknown Girl’ by Moniza Alvi, and Wilfred Owen’s war poem ‘Disabled’. In my opinion, ‘Significant Cigarettes’ would not have been very easy to compare to one of the other poems/passages available, as there are so few similarities with the ones I studied. Although the story was quite interesting, I did not feel like a comparison would have worked very well, so I rejected this passage quite quickly. On the other hand, the two poems would have been an engaging comparison, and, if I’m honest, it was very hard to chose which comparison.

However what made up my mind was that the two short stories were set in the same time period, so the reaction to both stories would be quite similar and views towards women were the same, which helps in the comparison, and means that the authors may have had similar reasons for publishing their story. Also, the two poems have different purposes and messages, with the young boy in ‘Disabled’ being Owens way of expressing his contempt at war, and ‘An Unknow Girl’ showing someone getting henna tattoos in a bazaar, I eventually dismissed this pairing, and decided to go to the effective combination of ‘The Necklace’ and ‘Story of an Hour’.

Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin and ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant Character Analysis essay

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Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin and ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant Character Analysis. (2020, Sep 09). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/story-of-an-hour-by-kate-chopin-and-the-necklace-by-guy-de-maupassant/

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