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Compare Hemingway’s ‘A Clean Well-Lighted Place’ to Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour.’

A literary work’s event or occurrence narrative style may provide the reader insight into the author’s objective. The author’s tone and diction may identify literary writing as ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ writing. Kate Chopin’s novel “The Story of an Hour” takes place in the late 1800s and tells the story of a single hour. The story’s protagonist, Mrs. Mallard, is shown as a lady who longs to leave her terrible marriage. Mrs. Mallard learns the news of her husband’s death at a terrible railway station in the first scene and then dies of a heart attack when the husband shows up at her door in the second scene. However, Ernest Hemmingway’s “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” is set in a clean Spanish café where two unidentified waiters — one elderly and one young — are talking about an old guy (also unnamed) who comes every night, sits alone and drinks brandy until it is too late to get out of the cafe any more. According to the waitress, an elderly guy attempted to take his own life last week. The emptiness of existence is a central theme in both of these short works. In their minds, life is meaningless, purposeless, and joyless. This research project focuses on comparing and contrasting two short tales by Ernest Hemingway and Kate Chopin.

As previously stated, the protagonists in these two short tales share a sense of emptiness, which is evident in their actions. In ‘A Clean Well-Lighted Place,’ Hemingway introduces a fictitious character (an elderly guy) on the edge of intoxication at a café. Their most excellent means of dealing with their sadness only subdues it rather than curing it, as shown by the elderly guy and the elderly waiter in this short tale. Furthermore, it is apparent that once, the elderly guy attempted suicide because he was depressed about nothingness in life. As the two waiters discuss their options, we discover that the deaf elderly guy often visits the café and remains drinking until the early hours of the morning. Despite his despair, he continues to live with his niece since he feels so alone in his life. On the other hand, as the news of her husband’s death spread, Chopin painted a portrait of Mrs. Mallard’s grief and emptiness, similar to Hemingway’s story. It was not sorrowing or suffering that she was feeling, but something else. The notion of her spouse no longer being there made her feel better than sad, and she even smiled a little.

Furthermore, there is a similar subject in both works: illnesses that affect people of both sexes. The older man is depressed, while Mrs. Mallard has a potentially fatal heart condition. During their separate storylines, both fictitious characters are confronted with the potential of being left alone. We might infer from the older man’s attempts at suicide and intoxication that he finds the prospect of being alone in life dreadful. Mrs. Mallard, on the other hand, thinks that being alone in life is a sign of independence! Both male and female writers may communicate these feelings similarly, regardless of gender. According to both Hemmingway and Chopin’s similar theme: even if literary works vary, they may be embraced as a whole since their commonality connects these works, encouraging development and enhancing the human experience.

Additionally, between the two short stories, there is a difference in the way concepts and ideas are presented and conveyed. It is said that Ernest Hemingway’s “iceberg principle” dictated his writing style, whereby he sought to provide just the most essential details. He firmly believes that a tale should be shown implicitly so that the meaning is left up to the reader. The conversation and the narrator’s description of the environment provide the reader with hints as to the story’s overall purpose in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” Even Hemingway’s characters and narrator use straightforward language with few metaphorical expressions. There is no dramatic finale in the narrative, but rather Hemingway describes anonymous persons and their surroundings uncomplicatedly. In Hemingway’s narrative, the interaction between the two waiters is minimal since they do not always understand one another. Because of this, the younger waiter does not grasp what the older waiter is saying when he tells him that the old guy attempted to commit himself over “nothing” Throughout the narrative, the older waiter often refers to “nothing,” which suggests a greater sense of futility and meaninglessness in the face of aging and death. The other waiter seemed to be too young to understand this. Because of this, the two waiters’ exchanges highlight their chasm because of where they are in life. On the other side, “The Story of an Hour” employs visuals to convey a message that the main character is shifting from tyranny to freedom. The entire tone of this narrative gives the sense of liberation one experiences after experiencing it for the first time.

In conclusion, Hemingway’s ‘A Clean Well-Lighted Place’ and Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour” have numerous similarities in terms of literal composition, themes, and structure. However, one significant difference between the texts is that Hemingway implements the “iceberg strategy.” At the same time, Chopin is explicit in the definition of her character and settings. However, both authors demonstrate the themes of loneliness and emptiness as portrayed in the short stories. A similar theme of ailment is addressed in the texts, where one character suffers from a heart condition while the other encounters depression. Therefore, from a thematic and literal perspective, these short stories have more similar attributes than contrasts which can be seen from the setting, writing style, and characters.

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. The story of an hour. Joe Books Ltd, 2018.

Hemingway, Ernest. “A clean, well-lighted place.” The complete short stories of Ernest Hemingway (1933): 288-291.


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