Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour" on Mrs. Mallard

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In this paragraph, the narrator’s depiction of Mrs. Mallard’s brief moment of illumination is illustrated in a very mellow-dramatic way. The reader can get a slight sense of sarcasm in the narrators tone and at the same time feel sorry for Mrs. Mallard. Mrs. Mallard seems to be quite selfish. She is not sad about her husband’s death; she is only thinking about how her life would be now that he is gone. Mrs. Mallard seldom talks for herself which makes the reader wonder how reliable the narration really is.

According to the narrator, it does not seem like Mrs. Mallard knows how to deal with her husband’s death. She seems confused. She does not know whether she is happy or sad but in this specific paragraph the reader senses that the narrator thinks that Mrs. Mallard is happy as her tone is casual yet dramatic and excited .The narrator says that from now on Mrs. Mallard can live for herself; she can do whatever she pleases without having to please anyone else. She feels that whether she is doing something good or bad it does not matter because from now on it is all about her. The fact that the word freedom is being repeated, the image a prisoner being set free is created. Mrs. Mallard seems to have been a prisoner in her own marriage. Even though “she had loved him -- sometimes” it seems like the marriage was not about love as much as it was about financial comfort and social acceptance. It does not seem like she loved her husband much and there is a feeling that he loved her more than she loved him and she did not appreciate his love. Mrs. Mallard probably did not invest in the marriage as much as her husband did. She took her husband and her life with him for granted and now she cannot face his death with a realistic insight. She escapes from reality and denies her emotions of sadness as she is not strong enough to face the recent tragedy. She lacks emotional skills to deal with her situation. She runs away from the past and the present and concentrates on her “free” life in the future. Mrs. Mallard’s brief moment of illumination is a continual emphasis on the future.

Even though later on in the story Mrs. Mallard is happy, in the beginning she was sad and broken, “she wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment.” This makes us wonder why there was a sudden change from sadness to happiness. Although the narrator tells us that Brently Mallard was a good man, “the face that had never looked save with love upon her” it is possible that Mrs. Mallard was being mistreated in her marriage and this was now her easy way out. It is possible that she loved him but it was difficult to love him as he neglected or abused her. So at first she remembers how much she loved her husband but then she realises that she is now free from that man. That brief moment of illumination was her awakening and after that the narrator refers to her by her first name, she was no longer “Mrs. Mallard” or “she”, she is now Louise. She got her old identity back, as Louise. She is no longer some ones wife. She is no longer Mrs. Mallard. Because of this the reader feels that Mrs. Mallard became her husbands property once they got married, a certain part of her was lost and she was aware of it and it seems like her love for her husband was keeping her from trying to regain that loss. That freedom she felt after hearing about her husband’s death became obvious and enjoyable. She could finally be herself.

The opening paragraph speaks of Mrs. Mallard’s heart condition. Mrs. Mallard is clearly a weak person and because of that it can be believed that her heart condition was not only physical but also psychological and emotional. This heart problem could have been caused by her unhealthy marriage combined with social pressure and her on emotional weaknesses. In her “brief moment of illumination” Mrs. Mallard gains strength and positive energy, she calls herself "Goddess of victory". All the pressure and her weaknesses are gone; she has freedom from that...
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