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Tone in The Story of an Hour

Initially, the tone of the story is dictated by other characters’ worrying about Louise and her heart condition: the language is cautious and evasive. In the middle of the story, however, there is a dramatic shift. Louise’s thoughts become the center of the story as she comes to a realization; the language of the story becomes much more certain and excited, reflecting her own excitement about the future.

Tone Examples in The Story of an Hour:

The Story of an Hour

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"There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it?..."   (The Story of an Hour)

This paragraph and the next one mark a shift in perspective and, therefore, a significant shift in tone. Earlier, Louise was observed from a distance, with a focus on other characters’ thoughts rather than her own. They saw her as fragile and vulnerable, which determined the language and tone of the story. Now, her own thoughts take center stage—“What was it?” is a question she is actually asking herself—and the whole tone of the story becomes more optimistic and excited. This optimism foreshadows her eventual feeling about the news of her husband’s death.

"intelligent..."   (The Story of an Hour)

The suspension of “intelligent” thought here doesn’t mean that she is thinking unintelligently; rather, she isn’t consciously thinking anything—she’s staring blankly, vacantly, at the patch of blue sky. This detail creates a sense of anticipation: her thoughts have been suspended, which implies a pause that will eventually end.

"veiled hints that revealed in half concealing..."   (The Story of an Hour)

The choice of words, such as “veiled hints" and "half concealing," contribute to an evasive, cautious tone. Additionally, readers are not told anything about Louise’s thoughts, only those of the characters around her. The evasiveness and caution in the language are a result of these characters’ worrying about Louise, creating a subdued, yet anticipatory, tone as they share the news of Louise's husband's death and consider her reaction.

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