The Liberating and Tragic Story of an Hour
The Story of an Hour is both a liberating story as well as a tragic story. Mrs. Mallard's situation is most likely not an unusual one. It is so well demonstrated that Mrs. Mallard's devotion to her husband is not without limit. It seems that she has grown accustomed to her husband and remains with him out of stationary comfort and tradition.
The most interesting element of this story is how Mrs. Mallard's emotions are so subtly alluded to. As Mrs. Mallard sits in the chair, staring blankly out the window, the reader suspects her true feelings The narrator observes that, "There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled above the other in the west facing her window" (179). Already, the reader recognizes the blue sky as a sign of hope. A sign of hope emerging from a heavy gloominess. Soon enough the reader's suspicions are confirmed as Mrs. Mallard sits in her chair chanting to herself, "Free, free, free" (180)!
It is obvious at this point that Mrs. Mallard has been liberated through her husband's misfortune. Mrs. Mallard is not, however, completely without care. She admits that she will cry again at Mr. Mallard's funeral. Mrs. Mallard sees the coming grief as a temporary hurdle and looks hopefully to the future; a future of self-discovery and well-received freedom. Mrs. Mallard's freedom is quickly abandoned, however, as Brently Mallard stumbles in the door. At his sight, Mrs. Mallard succumbs to her weak heart. The reader knows that her death is due to shattered dreams brought on with shock.
The doctor's are, as is everyone else, under the impression that Mrs. Mallard's love for her husband was without limit. The doctors announce that she had died of heart disease "- of joy that kills" (180). This concluding line is probably the most interesting. The reader knows, through the limited omniscient narrator, the true sentiments of Mrs. Mallard and the irony lays in the fact that Mrs. Mallard could not endure the confines of her superficial marriage.
One element that seemed to blemish the credibility of the story was the error of Richards. The narrator clearly states that Richards checked the validity of the misfortune twice. It seems strange that after such extensive precaution, there is still error. Mrs. Mallard makes an accurate and well described summation of her affairs when , "She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long" (180).
Chopin is to be commended in her ability to capture the sympathy of the reader. Upon Mrs. Mallard's death, the reader feels a sense of relief; relieved that Mrs. Mallard will not spend another day simply co-existing, heartlessly, with the unsuspecting Brently Mallard.
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