When people with a low need for cognition read The Story of an Hour, they may think that Mrs. Mallard's death was the result of a heart condition in correlation with a sudden surprise of her living husband. I believe that a heart condition is not completely to blame, as Mrs. Mallard was beginning to visualize and enjoy a future of free life without the governing hands of her husband. The site of Mr. Mallard stunned her, and forever killed away the illusions she had just dreamed up of her new life.
As the news of her husband's death initially had her sobbing by the window, slowly she began to see a different picture coming to mind. "She was beginning to recognize 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" (para. 10). Initially she felt a little guilt about her joy of relief of the news, but that quickly passed as her will to fight off the selfish thoughts was powerless.
Thoughts of a bitter funeral were overcome by her selfish new fantasy. "But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she spread her arms out to them in welcome" (para. 13). She was happy to have the shackles released from her unhappy commitment and duty of prison likes that was her husband. "And yet she had loved him--sometimes. Often she had not" (para. 15), this summarizes how her feelings toward her husband had been, mostly unfavorable.
The wonderful life she was envisioning was beginning to "riot" inside her head as she thought of the coming spring and summer days that would "be her own". She was enjoying it, almost gaining power from it. "There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of victory" (para. 20). Now she was in control, lost in her illusions and selfishness.
At the height of these feelings, she is shocked by the site of her husband.