Friday, June 6, 2008

Compare and Contrast of the Literary Elements in “The Storm”, “The Story of an Hour” and “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”

this is one of my assignment as a TESL student....

Compare and Contrast of the Literary Elements in “The Storm”, “The Story of an Hour” and “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”

Different short stories have different elements used by the authors. Authors use different elements to convey different message in the sort stories. That is why elements such as plot, character, setting, point of view, style, tone and language, symbol and allegory and also theme are crucial in identifying and interpreting message and meaning in short stories. In this assignment I choose three short stories that in some way have similarities and also some differences in term of literary elements. The three short stories are “The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and also “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter.

First and foremost, I would like to discuss themes in the three short stories. The theme of a work of literature is its central or dominant idea. A theme is usually an issue or lesson that a story brings to readers’ consciousness. Both of Kate Chopin short stories, “The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour” focus around the theme of feminism. Both of the stories show that women want to earn their independent. In “The Storm” Kate Chopin focuses on theme of women’s sexual independence. While it has traditionally been men who have attached the "ball and chain" philosophy to marriage, Kate Chopin gave readers a woman’s view of how repressive and confining marriage can be for a woman, both spiritually and sexually. In the story “The Story of an Hour” Kate Chopin deals with the issues of female self-discovery and identity. After Louise believed her husband died she discover that she is more confident. She exclaims, “Free! Body and soul free!” She finally had reason to take initiative in life and did not have to live a life where nothing was expected of her. She felt that she is free and independent. However in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” Katherine Ann Porter focuses on the theme of self-pity. As a result of Granny's wedding day jilting she feels sorry for herself throughout the rest of her life. She also has become suspicious of everyone. Thoughts like these resulted from the trauma she suffered when the man she loved failed to show up on their wedding day. This story is contrast from the two short stories from Kate Chopin. While Kate Chopin wants to focus about women’s self-right, Katherine Ann Porter talks about the self-pity of women being jilted.

Another element that I want to discuss is the point of view of the short stories. Point of view is the perspective from which the events in a story are perceived and narrated. All three of the short stories use third-person narrators. Writing in the third person gives the authors a broader range of choices of what to show to the readers. Although all three of the short stories use third-person narrators, there are some differences. Both of the short stories by Kate Chopin use limited omniscient narrators. In “The Storm” the third-person narrator frequently focuses on the main character, Calixta. This allows readers to gain access t her thought and feeling. In “The Story of an Hour”, the reader identifies with Louise, the only character whose thoughts are accessible. As Louise becomes conscious of her situation and emotions, the reader gains access to her thinking which reveals her character. On the other hand, the third-person narrator in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” is different from the two short stories from Kate Chopin. Though the story is written in the third person, its narrative point of view is extremely close to that of the central character, Granny Weatherall. The story is told through stream-of-consciousness. Granny's thoughts are presented in a spontaneous fashion, as if readers had access to her.

Setting is also a crucial element that colours the work of literature. The setting is the time and place in which the events of a story are imagined to have occurred. In “The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour” both short stories have historical setting. “The Storm” was written by Kate Chopin in a time when women were expected to behave "properly" and sexual desire was considered to be something only experienced by men. Kate Chopin spoke with exceptional openness about human sexuality. She lambasted society for its perpetual close-mindedness in a time when righteousness was considered to be an attribute, and she helped to generate more enlightened attitudes among both the women and men of her time. Meanwhile, “The Story of an Hour” was written by Kate Chopin in the time when the law code favoured the husband in all domestic affairs including property, marriage and divorce and left women without many legal or fiscal rights. In “The Story of an Hour” the concept of freedom is closely tied to the prospect of escaping these restrictions. However in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” Katherine Ann Porter did not exactly uses historical setting in the short story. But she did use the bedroom where Granny Weatherall is dying as a setting though most of the action occurs in Granny's head.

Another element that is important in a work of literature is character. A character is a fictional representation of a person, usually a psychologically realistic depiction. Authors develop characters through their actions, reactions to situations or to other characters, even through their names. The main characters for all three short stories are round character. The characters are well-develop, closely involved in and responsive to the action. In “The Storm” Calixta’s behaviour and emotion changes when Alcee is in the room. From a loyal wife, she committed adultery without feeling guilty of doing it. Despite the immoral action that she has committed, she becomes a much happy person and she welcomed her husband and child with motherly sense. Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” also gone through changes in the plot. From the feeling of grief by her husband’s death, her emotion change into a feeling freedom and relief. At first, she is frightened of her own awakening. When she first utters the words "free, free, free!" she is described as having "abandoned herself." But after she speaks these words, she relaxes and gains more control over herself. In the short story “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” Granny Weatherall has been in some way deceived or disappointed in every love relationship of her life. Her past lover George, husband John, daughter Cornelia, and God each did an injustice to Granny Weatherall. Although Granny Weatherall cannot move, the action and plot of the story evolve in her head.

Last but not least, plot is another element that is important in a work of literature. A plot is a meaningful ordering events with their consequences, a “what happened to whom and why.” In all three of the short stories, the conflicts occur within the characters’ mind. In “The Storm”, Calixta struggled with her inner desire and emotion to commit adultery. Mrs. Mallard also faced internal conflict whether she should grief of her husband’s death or should she feel a sense of freedom and happy with the news. In “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” the emotional battle Granny Weatherall encounters within herself of being jilted throughout her life is the primary interest of the story. Although all conflicts happen within the characters’ mind, the order and sequence of Kate Chopin’s stories (“The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour”) and Katherine Ann Porter, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” is different. In her short stories, Kate Chopin uses a strict chronological order, while in”The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”, Katherine Ann porter uses flashback to creates interest to the readers. Granny Weatherall recalls events throughout, from being left alone at the altar on her wedding day, to losing child, to coming to grips with her own death as reaches a close. All the memories of Granny Weatherall helps the readers understand about characteristic and emotions of Granny Weatherall, plus the readers can interpret the reasons Granny Weatherall becomes like that.

In a nut shell, all three short stories provide elements that can attract readers. However, personally, I much prefer “The Story of an Hour”. This is because although the story is very short, it is interesting to look at it as a minimalist piece of literature, and the surprise ending offers an opportunity to look at Kate Chopin's use of foreshadowing.
1) Temple, Martinez, Yokota, Naylor (2003) Children’s Books in Children’s Hands An

Introduction to Their Literature Second Edition

Allyn & Bacon

2) Kirszner, Mandell (2006) Literature Reading Reacting Writing

Thomson Wadsworth