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Comparison essay: The Theme of Death in the Story of an Hour and She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways

Published under category: Sample Essays | 2015-05-28 01:57:13 UTC

Context: Short Story analysis

The topic of death is commonly applied in the literature with a twist in the manner in which the story approaches the topic. Death is a tragedy that affects both the old and the young in ways that are unexplainable; therefore, an issue easily addressing the various issues in the social groupings of the nation. Considering the recurrence of the theme in many literature materials, modern literature presents the same theme with a different perspective that gives the reader a reason to continue reading the literature, and at the same time creates interest in knowing about the story. These methods have been applied in the writing of ‘The Story of an Hour,’ and ‘She Dwelt among the Un-trodden Ways.’ In the ‘Story of an hour,’ Chopin describes Mrs. Mallard and her joy in receiving the news that her husband had died (Chopin & Gilbert, 1984). On the other hand, in the poem, ‘She Dwelt among Un-trodden Ways,’ William Wordsworth talks about the experiences in losing a loved one due to death and the experiences. The argumentative essay presented in this writing looks into the representation of the theme of death as expressed by Kate Chopin and William Wordsworth literature materials.

Wordsworth (1994) adds that, literature finds a different way to represent themes in the writings. As the reader gets to know more about the method that the writer is using to  address the issue, and then he or she comes to identifying the themes of concern that are being addressed in the material. Hidden by using other words to substitute death or at other times using an expression, the original meaning of death and the effect to the affected have not changed a lot. Over the years, the problem of death has been a trigger to negative emotions in ways unexplained. The reactions to the news of death, however, are always different depending on the relationship existing between the dead person and the people around or who cared about them in life. However, the different perspectives and change in approach to addressing the problem has resolved the regard that people have of writings that address the problem of death. The perception of death is different depending on the person affected and the people who care or are around them. With the changes in the cultural beliefs and traditions, death is seen as the destruction of the close ties in the society, and in other cases, it is part of the cycle of life. In the story ‘The Story of an Hour,’ Mrs. Louise Mallard sees death as a beginning of free life. She sees death as the ultimate solution for her problems, although she does not express her joy for the passing of her husband, in her seclusion; she is filled with joy for the news. On the other hand, the protagonist in the poem, ‘She Dwelt among Un-trodden Path,’ death is seen as a negative thing that robbed the protagonist of her joy and the person she loves. In their different views, death represents different meanings in their lives with each expressing different emotions for the same. While Mrs. Mallard becomes satisfied and feels free, the protagonist in the poem grieves and is unhappy for being left by her lover (Chopin & Gilbert, 1984). Death in these two literature materials presents the various perspectives that the death is perceived in life. In one example, death is a device that deprives people the joy and happiness of family and cultural ties. On the other hand, death is seen as a way through which one can experience the joy and achieve independence from the previous ties of life situations that deprived him or her joy of the social links.

The writer of the Story of an Hour describes the turn of events in the house of Mrs. Mallard when she is told of the train accident in which she believed that her husband had boarded. The story introduces the theme of death as a solution to a problem that Mrs. Mallard had failed to find a solution. When her sister Josephine told her of the train accident, Mrs. Mallard locked herself in her room, a response that anybody would have expressed as a response to such sad news. However, in the seclusion from her sister and her husband’s friend, Mrs. Mallard looks out of the window and realizes the difference that nature, which she was accustomed to be different at this time. Chopin indicates in the story that, in the calmness of her seclusion, Mrs. Mallard exclaims how excited she is that she is now going to be set free. The ties that her husband had put on her were now going to be removed, as he is no longer alive.

The spirit instigates an expression of joy as she reminisces at the freedom that she will regain with her husband finally out of the picture. In answer to the sad news, Mrs. Mallard, finds it as a tool of development that she has been waiting for in a long time. Mrs. Mallard envisions the greatness and the achievement of the passions that she has had in mind, but lacked the opportunity to communicate barred by the restrictions of her husband (Chopin & Gilbert, 1984). As she looks out through her window, she stares at the joy that the birds and the animals display as they go on with their daily activities. In a way, she sees herself in the same position and the things that she is going to achieve if she gets the same opportunity. As a result, she changes her emotions that are to mourn for the death of her husband to joy for the freedom. The absence of her husband in her life means that she gets to do the things that she wants without the restrictions of her husband. The writer brings into reality the typical situation of grief, dejection and deprivation of joy when the news of death is delivered. On the contrary, the message brought out remorse from Mrs. Mallard for a moment before she envisioned the changes that might come out of the death of her husband. However, when Mrs. Mallard comes back down from the seclusion of her room, Mr. Mallard, who did not die in a train accident, enters the room. In a new perspective, Chopin introduces death as an expression of joy. At the sight if her husband, Mrs. Mallard dies with a heart attack, which symbolizes her resentment as her hopes for freedom is shattered. The death that she saw as a solution to her problems caused Mrs. Mallard her life.

On the other hand, the poem of ‘She Dwelt among Un-trodden Ways,’ which is one of the poems among The Lucy Poems, presents a protagonist who is broken down by the saddening news of the death of her lover. Death comes into play as a disruption of the peace that existed between the protagonist and his lover. In the demise of his lover, the normality of the daily life is broken, the freedom and the joy of social relations are interrupted leaving him unable to belong to the social world. The feeling of attachment to his lover is the driving force in his reaction towards the news. His emotions at the hearing of the news describe his pain and deprivation of the joy he initially enjoyed. Wordsworth describes the lover by the use of simile and metaphor, which develops the regard of the lover and the extent to which her demise is going to affect him. The effect of death to the protagonist of the poem ‘She Dwelt among Un-trodden Ways,’ brings out grieving as a response to death. Death brings pain and loss to the people who have lost their loved ones. When they are unable to restore the joy and fill the gap the ones who have died occupied, they took out the grief and loneliness in their emotions (Wordsworth, 1994).

The theme of death in the story of an hour and the song of she dwelt in un-trodden methods bring to light the societal roles that men and women have in the household setting. In the story of an hour, Mrs. Mallard seems to have been displeased with the household chores that she was to do every day. In the event of attaining her roles as the woman of the house, she becomes unable to pursue other things that she might be interested. Consequently, as a wife she considers herself as being deprived of her freedom as a human being. In addition, she develops a heart problem that can be connected to her inability to practice or do other things. The turn of events after the news of the alleged death of her husband is made to her; even her sister and her husband’s friend are cautious to make sure that she receives the news in the perfect way possible that might not trigger her heart problem. Chopin argues that the death may be viewed as a relief in some features such as in the case of an abusive relationship. Despite the lack of mentioning in the story of an hour about the relationship, that Mrs. Mallard and his husband had her reaction when she was in her room after receiving the news suggests that she was not satisfied. The writer puts it that the reader expects the person who loses a loved one grieves at such sad news. Ironically, the news creates a different response, from Mrs. Mallard.

In the story, Mrs. Mallard utters words that contradict the normal feelings that are expected of her. She demonstrates her passion for a good life free of everything that she considered a restriction in her life. She sees herself free to decide on what she wants to do and when she wants to do at any time. Additionally, Mrs. Mallard makes plain her willingness and passion for living as she pleases. In the story, she mentions that she will shed tears the next time that she will be in the public, which is during the burial of her husband. Despite the pain that she has, she thinks about the future that she envisions without her husband.

On the other hand, Wordsworth presents the emotions that come with death. In the loss of a loved one, people grief and become unhappy. Wordsworth describes grief as the response of people to death or loss; consequently, a person who has lost a loved one is affected physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. In the writing of the Lucy poems, Wordsworth writes from personal experience and the things that happened in his past. The poem describes the difficulty in dealing with the pain of losing a loved one, someone who meant a lot to another. Additionally, in the poem ‘she dwells among the un-trodden ways,’ Wordsworth describes the pain that he is feeling even after his loved one has been placed in the grave.

The death of his loved one has robbed him the joy and closeness with the people around. In the event of grief for the loss of a loved one, Wordsworth loses the link with the social life, becomes withdrawn, and resolves to concentrate on things that will draw his attention from the pain he feels (Wordsworth, 1994). The theme of death in the poem also presents a distraction from other things that people are used to do. When affected by death the happiness and joy in accomplishing an activity. The spiritual, physical, and emotional beings of an individual are interlinked as one and have control over their actions in any way. Therefore, at that point when a person loses his, or her loved one, they also lose their personal respect for various projects.

In conclusion, the two literature materials are a representation of the topic of death through in different perspectives. Kate Chopin presents Mrs. Louise Mallard, who receives the news of the alleged death of her husband. In a typical scenario, it is required of her to mourn for the death of her husband whom she must have loved before getting married to him. However, in the seclusion of her bedroom, Mrs. Mallard becomes excited with the news that her husband has died. She is finally free that she will be free from the commitments of the house that she sees as barriers to her independence. Wordsworth, on the other hand, presents a personal experience with the loss of his loved one. Even in the death of his loved one, the feeling of being deprived of the joy and happiness of life still hurts him. Death presents a number of features in the literature works, which are reflected in contemporary life. As some view death to deprive one of the joys of life, others consider it a relief such as in the case of an abusive relationship. On the other hand, death is also a way through which one realizes the pain and the emotions that are connected to the loss of somebody that one cares about in any way. Therefore, despite the different perspectives that death represents in people's life, it affects the society in ways that are for the benefit of the affected or to their disadvantage. Consequently, the reactions of people to the news of death are dictated by the relationships that exist between the two parties before one dies.  



Chopin, K., & Gilbert, S. (1984). The Awakening, and Selected Stories. New York: Penguin Books Print.

Wordsworth, W. (1994). The Collected Poems of William Wordsworth. Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions.



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