Deciphering “The Story of an Hour”: Lanser’s Fourfold Analysis
Phraseological Insights: Diegesis, Mimesis, and “The Story of an Hour”
Lanser analyzes the work of Chopin in four aspects, which are phraseological, spatiotemporal, psychological, and ideological. In this journal, I will explain how Chopin’s The Story of An Hour applies these aspects according to Lanser’s definition.
The phraseological stance compares the diegesis and mimesis styles of a narrative. Lanser connects this stance to the psychological. In Diegesis, it was the narrator who started the telling. With the use of the word “delicious” in line 25, the discourse began applying psycho-narration because the narrator described the character’s consciousness. The text was narrated indirectly until line 53 when the character said “Free, free, free!” referring to identifying her own feelings. Other lines that brought the shift into direct speech were “Free! Body and soul free!” and “Go away. I am not making myself ill.” In mimesis, Lanser points out the rareness or lack of the character’s presentation of her own being since the text is mostly narrated indirectly.
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Spatiotemporal: Exploring Mrs. Mallard’s Space
By viewing Mrs. Mallard through a spatial lens, we can gain new insight into the various settings and her role as the audience or narrator. As the story progresses in different settings, we get a glimpse of Louise Mallard’s life, which she keeps to herself and what others know about. In this way, it seems like we are following the character, with the narrator giving us directions. The temporal point of view connects with the spatial, as along with a particular place, there is always time consumed. In lines 19 to 89, the setting is mostly in Mrs. Mallard’s room, which tackles and delves deeply into her reaction and feelings of sorrow, grief, and happiness.
This scene takes up the most space in the story, mainly because it is the highlight or what the narrator is trying to convey to the audience that emotions have different phases before we finally accept what happened. Moreover, story duration plays a role in how the important part (which is Louise’s reaction) of the story is emphasized, and it also allows interpretations as to why she felt such. With regard to temporality, the succession of events was done in chronological order.
Psychology: Mrs. Mallard’s Emotional Journey
However, we can consider it as posterior since the announcement of Brently’s death leads to the changes of emotions and eventually the plot twist in the ending. The news about Brently’s death and the fact that Louise has a heart problem is a troubling concurrence, knowing that it would be too much to handle for Louise and her sister Josephine would have to be more careful in handling her.
From a psychological stance, the amount of information on Bentley’s death, although not completely detailed, is too much to handle for Louise, and later, it actually turns out that he was still alive. The reason that the information of him still being alive was kept back until the end was to give way to the pain Louise felt. Since she is the main subject and focalizer, the information provided is subjective as it revolves around her experience and how she views her surroundings. The internal focalization of Mrs. Mallard centers on her consciousness as a woman grieving over the death of a husband. This can be seen when Josephine knocks on her door, asking her to let her in, and Louise, knowing that she is already a widow, has endless thoughts of misery. The external vision is all about how she showed up to Josephine, looking as if she’s about to faint because that is how the narrator would describe that heartbreaking scene that would lead to her death.
Ideology: Societal Norms Under the Lens
The ideological stance suggests that the story of Mrs. Mallard develops a feeling of empathy from the narratives towards her. With the use of the psychological, phraseological, and spatiotemporal stance, we were able to develop this emotion because her consciousness was revealed. With regard to expression, the narration dives deep into the internal expressions of the main character. There are figural lines such as “when the storm of grief had spent itself” and “when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried himself to sleep continues to sob in his dreams.”
In relation to the cultural text, the story is in opposition to the time of Chopin and probably the present. It questions the right ways of handling a heterosexual relationship/marriage and how one should be rightly affected by death. Louise, who grieved upon hearing the news, thought at first how she would be lonely without him.
However, she was able to look at the bright side and saw the freedom she could finally attain. This part challenges the role of men in women’s identity and ability to live on their own. It gives doubts to the notions that it is evil to make someone’s death a reason for your own happiness and independence, and a woman cannot live without a man. Lanser considers this text as trivial. The authority, both by the diegetic narrator and the mimetic aspect through the character’s participation, reinforces the execution of the ideological stance.
Lanser identifies the textual ideology of The Story of an Hour, where the main character only uses sentence fragments when expressing, and the narrator indicates her thoughts before she says them. I agree with the textual ideology because I think that narrators should be the ones to guide the narratives in understanding the character. Both the narrator and character have the job of telling the story and making sure it creates a message/idea in the narrator’s mind. I believe it is best for the character to speak in sentence fragments to express how she feels. That would develop a connection with the audience compared to saying a long statement that might sound cliche and repetitive when in fact the narrator already mentioned details.
- Chopin, K. (1894). The Story of an Hour.