Writing a argumentative MLA format essay on the poem " Story of an hour"



Palm Beach Atlantic University - West Palm Beach

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This essay must be be 1,000 Words. There are attached files that you MUST use to cite and also tthere is a file that is an example of a good MLA format paper from my professor. LIMIT OF TWO ADDITIONAL outside sources.

You will create an argument on the short poem "Story of an hour" Please remain on topic and provide a great thesis statement.

this is some citations I found for the attachments

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MLA Literature Paper (Larson) Larson 1 The opening lines name the story and establish context. Present tense is used to describe details from the story. Quotations from the story are cited with page numbers in parentheses. The opening paragraph ends with Larson’s research question. Quotation from a secondary source: author is named in a signal phrase; page number is given in parentheses. The thesis asserts Larson’s main point. Marginal annotations indicate MLA-style formatting and effective writing. Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006). Larson 2 A long quotation is set off by indenting; no quotation marks are needed; ellipsis dots indicate a sentence omitted from the source. Larson summarizes ideas from a secondary source and then quotes from that source; he names the author in a signal phrase and gives a page number in parentheses. Topic sentence focuses on Larson’s interpretation. Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006). Larson 3 Topic sentences focus on interpretation, not just plot. Details from the story provide evidence for the interpretation. Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006). Larson 4 Ellipsis dots indicate omitted words within the sentence and at the end of the sentence. Transition serves as a bridge from one section of the paper to the next. Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006). Larson 5 Larson gives evidence that Mrs. Peters has been transformed. Larson draws on a secondary source that gives background on Glaspell’s life. Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006). Larson 6 Larson’s conclusion echoes his main point without dully repeating it. Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006). Larson 7 The works cited page lists the primary source (Glaspell’s story) and secondary sources. Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006). ESSAY 29 “Joy T hat Kills”: Female Jouissance in Kate Chopin’s “The Story o f an H our” Mavis Chia-Chieh Tseng Kate Chopin’s best-known short fiction “The Story of an Hour” is a tour de force portraying a woman’s tension and anxiety under patriarchal oppression. After hearing the news of her husband’s untimely passing, the protagonist, Mrs. Louise Mallard, is grief-stricken at first, but soon other thoughts creep into her mind. The text indicates that Louise’s life is extreme­ ly restricted because of her domestic confinement and also suggests that she must have been secretly yearning for a life of her own. As the story unfolds, we understand that she wants to liberate her long-repressed female identity more than anything else; thus, readers are unlikely to charge her with being unsympathetic or even perverse in rejoicing at her husband’s death. The most interesting part of the story depicts the heroine’s experience of ecstasy while contemplating her newfound life of freedom. The climax is reached when she suddenly dies of a heart attack while descending the stairs with her sister. Ironically, this also happens precisely at the moment when, unknown to her, her husband is entering the house. In about 1000 words capturing what hap­ pens in barely one hour, Kate Chopin reveals the ecstatic experience of free­ dom and independence from the domestic oppression of a lifetime, the most intense but short-lived “joy that kills.” The ending of this extremely short piece with astounding intensity does shed some light on the female repressed identity and sexuality. To borrow Per Seyersted’s words, it gives us the “most startling picture of female self-assertion” (60). The enigmatic power giving rise to Louise’s ecstasy is open to multiple interpretations. The author remains vague through this entire piece about the true nature of such a mysterious force. Naturally, this evasiveness arouses the reader’s curiosity and one wonders if it is an elusive supernatural power transcending her mundane existence which takes possession of her. Critics so far generally agree that the spiritual enlightenment which the heroine encounters is similar to a sexual experience. If so, then with whom exactly is she having sex? If it is a sexual union with the divine, then is this immortal being male, female, or neuter? This essay begins with a brief discussion of the divine union as a literary motif. I argue that Louise’s epiphany probably involves a peculiar kind of female divine and is akin to what Luce Irigaray 30 SHORT STORY calls women’s “jouissan.eeIn her psychoanalytic reading of Chopin’s “Two Portraits,” Maria Aline Seabra Ferreira argues that a jouissance creates a feminine space for women: "... the female mystic manages to create a space of her own in the midst of rigid and enduring patriarchal structures of thought, guiltlessly to give vent to her own jouissance, a jouissance usually stifled or dismissed by male thinkers” (50-51). Irigaray’s conception of jouissance which deliberately challenges the phallocentric model concerning female sexuality enables us to interpret “The Story of an Hour” in line with Chopin’s concern for women’s social and domestic autonomy. Chopin describes Louise’s ecstasy regarding her newfound liberation and independence in the following passages: There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air. Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recog­ nize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will— as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been. When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body. (353) The author’s assertion that this mysterious “something” is “too subtle and elusive to name” has left a great deal of room for critical interpretations. In his review of this story, Daniel P. Deneau contends that what the heroine encounters here might well be a sexual union with an unnamed deity who helps the blind see. Focusing on the word “possess” used here, which in cer­ tain contexts can denote “to have sexual intercourse with (a woman)” and the sentences which are intensively suggestive of “coitus and postcoital reactions,” Deneau claims that what occurs within the process of Louise’s epiphany is “some type of sexual experience.” Utterly unanticipated, it turns out to be like “a terrifying rape, but one that evolves into something sensually stimulating and relaxing, and, of course, spiritually illuminating.” He concludes that “In short, a rape seems to have an ironic outcome” (212). Moreover, Deneau fur­ ther proposes that the enigmatic sexual partner is either pagan or Christian. ESSA Y 31 If it is pagan, then the story is rather similar to William Butler Yeats’ famous poem “Leda and the Swan,” in which Zeus seduces and “possesses” Leda. Deneau is not satisfied with the first conjecture because Louise’s unusual encounter does not involve merely fear and helplessness, but also implies anticipation, pleasure, and ultimately enlightenment. Thereby he is reminded of the “descent of the Christian Holy Spirit,” which is often associated with “conception, renewal, empowerment, inspiration, enlightenment, and free­ dom” (212). In short, Deneau’s reading necessitates an external divine power which leads to the heroine’s epiphany, or in his own words, “a force as intense as a combination of a rape, a visitation by the Holy Spirit, and a sexual union—or, in short, a deux ex machina” (212). As a literary motif, the divine rape is nothing novel. But in the tradition of allegorical readings, we often downplay the literal meaning of the sex­ ual act and focus more on the spiritual meaning. One noted example can be found in the final couplet of John Donne’s poem “Holy Sonnet XIV”: “Except you enthrall me, never shall be free / Nor ever chaste, except you rav­ ish me” (314). Thomas J. Steele and George Knox regard the explicit mention of sexual activity here as “a secondary meaning” and suggest that we should not read the word “ravish” literally as “the relation between man and God in heterosexual terms” (212). In other words, the divine rape is symbolic or met­ aphorical in this context, not meant to be taken as a physical union with the divine. In a paradoxical metaphysical conceit, Donne astoundingly declares that true freedom comes only when one is imprisoned by God, and purity of heart comes with God’s ravishment. The divine assault is thus not a matter of sexual aggression but suggests a benign spiritual union, which magically turns “the humanly imperfect and even exploitative” into something “divinely per­ fect and fulfilling” (212). In the same vein, Chopin depicts an epiphany seemingly caused by a supernatural power as follows: “She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her” (353, emphasis mine). Here Chopin’s use of the word “possess” parallels Donne’s use of “ravish.” If God builds up as one is torn down and “ravishes” to set one free, then we might treat the word “possess” in the same way as suggestive of some spiritual union or divine enlightenment. While Deneau’s interpretation makes sense in general, its implicit phallocentric bias is questionable. He talks of “a visitation by the Holy Spirit.” Although the Holy Spirit is often represented as a dove-like figure, its close relation with the two other unmistakably masculine elements of the Holy Trinity cannot be ignored. If the Christian God is essentially 32 SHORT STORY masculine, then the divine rape obviously contradicts a major theme in the story, namely, female liberation and self-assertion.1The postulation of a male God enlightening a woman suggests complicity with patriarchy, undermining the subversive potential of “The Story of an Hour” as an important manifesto of female autonomy. I propose to read Chopins story in light of Irigaray’s discussion of the divine. For Irigaray, it is essential and necessary to establish “an autonomous identity for women.” In theology, women should refute the notion of a male-defined God and find a god for themselves (Grosz 151-52),2 given that “ [g] od embodies the possibility of a perfection, an ideal, goal and trajectory for the subject, but only on condition that this God is one’s own.” Since God is the conventional representation of male ideals, for Irigaray “women need to find or formulate a God of their own, a God in their image ... a God who can togeth­ er occupy a heaven,” as Elizabeth Grosz puts it (160). It is indispensable for women as autonomous beings, as Irigaray reminds us, “to be God for us so that we can be divine for the other”; God should not be defined as “an idol, fetish, images already proliferated and determined” (160).3 In the story, the epiphany transforms Louise from a woman with a “dull stare in her eyes” to one with “a feverish triumph in her eyes.” After the encounter with the divine, she becomes a totally changed person, “drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.” Her sister finds her “ [carry­ ing] herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory.” Differing from Leda, who is passively raped by Zeus and remains a mortal after the event, Louise seems to have turned into a goddess herself. In the last part of the story, Louise “clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs” (354). Such a descending posture might be taken as an allusion to Louise’s newborn “divine” identity. This female divine can be seen as representing woman’s own ideals, self-representations and horizons, beyond the confines of patri­ archal hegemony and paternal law. Given the evasiveness about the origin of the sudden transformation in Louise, one may venture to argue that she has attained the ideal status of the body and soul united as one, which is exactly what Irigaray passionately envisions in her project as a whole. Being spiritu­ ally connected with and illuminated by the supreme power, Louise’s own self incarnates the divine. All along we have been discussing the story in terms of the conventional divine rape motif, which presupposes God as an external agent bringing about changes in the protagonist. Can we go one step further and argue that ESSAY 33 the divine, in fact, is not something outside, alien to selfhood, but has its origin deep within the female subject? To explore this topic we have to revisit the part of the story describing what happens before Louise’s enlightenment. Before the moment of change and enlightenment, Louise is sitting in her room, facing the open window in her deep solitude “pressed down by a physical exhaustion,” and gazing listlessly at “those patches of blue sky.” What is inside is described as motionless and lifeless, while the world outside is full of vitality, as suggested by expressions like “aquiver,” “new spring life,” and sounds like a peddler’s calling and the “notes of a distant song.” Then suddenly emerges the mysterious unknown power: “something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully.” Because of the sharp contrast between the passivity inside the room and the lively scenes outside and the description of her feeling that “something” is “creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air,” most readers are led to think that the mysterious “something” must come from the outside world (352-53). What has often been neglected is that the feeling of an external agent approaching her through the air is the protagonist’s subjective impression after all. According to the divine rape theory, Louise needs a deity from the sky to “possess” her so that she may attain enlightenment and change into a new person. This conventional reading is based on the traditional understanding of heterosexual relations, which Irigaray has taken pains to oppose. In her monumental essay “This Sex Which Is Not One,” Irigaray main­ tains that a man needs an “instrument” to touch the self for sexual pleasure, but a woman, in contrast, touches herself in and of herself without any need for mediation: “Woman ‘touches herself’ all the time, and moreover no one can forbid her to do so, for her genitals are formed of two lips in continu­ ous contact. Thus, within herself, she is already two—but not divisible into one(s)—that caress each other” (24). Hence lips (which incessantly oscillate between a metaphorical image of “lips” and the referential signification of labia) serve as a cardinal symbol within Irigaray’s theoretical formulation of female self-assertion and autonomous sexuality. As opposed to male sexuality, which relies heavily on an external object or body, women’s sexuality “is plural ...woman has sex organs more or less everywhere’ (28 emphasis original). Thus women are able to acquire pleasure almost everywhere. With Irigaray’s radical theory, we are able to reread “The Story of an Hour” without presupposing any external deity at all. We might actually reinterpret the divine rape motif metaphorically, seeing the coming of a divine being to possess her as a meta- 34 SHORT STORY phor for something mysteriously at work deep down in herself, some mental processes which are simply “too subtle and elusive to name.” To put it in another way, the female divine accounting for her transformation represents no more than some mysterious workings within her inner self. In fact, her enlightenment accompanied by the “monstrous joy” is not unanticipated at all, for Chopin informs us that Louise is “waiting for it, fearfully.’ As revealed by her spontaneous utterance of “free, free, free,” the ultimate cause has no doubt to do with the awareness that her husband is dead and can control her life no more. Two important expressions in the text can be very nicely made sense of using Irigaray’s theory. Female sexuality, according to Irigaray, resists signifi­ cation and definition: it is “an ‘other meaning always in the process o f weaving itself, o f embracing itself with words, but also o f getting rid o f words in order not to become fixed, congealed in them. For if ‘she’ says something, it is not, it is already no longer, identical with what she means” (29, emphasis in original). If indeed female sexuality is plural, floating, and ambiguous, it will be hard to pin down by words, corresponding exactly to Chopin’s description of “some­ thing... too subtle and elusive to name.” The key image of lips can be found in the following passage about Louise’s “monstrous joy”: When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under the breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body. (353) The “slightly parted lips” which must have somehow touched each other when uttering “free, free, free” reminds us of the following idea of female sex­ uality in Irigaray: “Woman ‘touches herself’ all the time... for her genitals are formed of two lips in continuous contact” (24). On the one hand, the great joy as represented by her pulses beating fast and her brightening eyes may allude to female jouissance. On the other hand, the lips image interpreted in terms of Irigaray’s theory goes well with the idea of Louise’s sense of freedom defined exactly as the freedom from a patriarchal yoke implied by her hus­ band’s presumed death. I have discussed the “monstrous joy” accompanying Louise’s enlightenment with reference to female jouissance. A detailed explanation of this psychoanalytical term is in order. The French wordjouissance means enjoyment, particularly sexual enjoyment or “orgasm.” Jacques Lacan ESSAY 35 distinguishes between jouissance and pleasure. If what Sigmund Freud has called the “pleasure principle” functions as a limit to enjoyment, to guard the subject against over-excitation, then the constant attempt to go beyond the pleasure principle is to attain an excessive enjoyment or jouissance. According to Lacan, the “prohibition o i jouissance (the pleasure principle) is inherent in the symbolic structure of language.” This prohibition of something which is already impossible, paradoxically, “sustain[s] the neurotic illusion that enjoyment would be attainable if it were not forbidden.” Inasmuch as the “death drive,” or the constant desire to transgress the pleasure principle and to obtain some excessive jouissance, we can see that jouissance is the “path toward death.” Interestingly, Chopin in the last sentence of the story describes the cause of Louise’s death as “the joy that kills,” which matches exactly Lacan’s idea of jouissance as impossible pleasure verging on death (91-92). Lacan initially asserts that jouissance is essentially phallic. But he later admits that there is a different female jouissance, a supplementary jouissance which is “beyond the phallus”: “Women content themselves (sen tiennent), any woman contents herself (aucune s’en tient), being not-whole, with the ...
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