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At the beginning of the story the readers are mislead to believe that Mrs. Mallard “was afflicted with a heart trouble” (Chopin 2009). Within the context of the whole story “heart trouble” has a double meaning. The author here tries to hint that the heart trouble might not be the heart disease that Mrs. Mallard is thought to suffer from. Besides the literal meaning, heart troubles are also connected to the feelings and inner spirituality of people. The use of the passive voice “was afflicted” speaks about the impossibility of Mrs. Mallard to act as she wishes. And because of her faint heart Josephine – her sister and Richards – a close family friend, reveal her “gently” the heart-breaking news of her husband’s death. They way in which her sister delivers her the news is in “broken sentences”. Broken sentences contrast with the fear of her family to break her heart. The use of oxymoron – “revealed in half concealing” suggests that the revelation of the death of her husband, conceals Mrs. Mallard’s inner feelings.
Someone else’s feelings are also concealed in this paragraph. Mrs. Mallard’s husband’s friend Richards is depicted as impatient. Unclear clues are scattered throughout the paragraph. Richards assures himself of the truth, he hastens to Mrs. Mallard’s home and uses “less careful, less tender” language to bear her the “sad message”. There is an opposition here. “Less careful” might mean that Richards is both clumsy and rough man, but it can mean that he also conceals his feelings for Mrs. Mallard, as she is already married. By being less tender he will show to Mrs. Mallard that he has a strong personality and emotions to her. The “sad message” is employed ironically here. It is both ironic and sarcastic that sad message can bring happiness to two people
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