Louise Mallard Character Analysis

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Emily Choumbakos Literature Based Research Erin Lesh 4 May 2014 There is one clear main character, Mrs. Louise Mallard. The story is almost entirely focused on her, her feelings, and her personal mental journey from being a prisoner and a shell of a woman, living in an oppressive, patriarchal society within the confines of a marriage to the elation of newly acquired freedom and a rebirth of that that, for the first time, belongs to her solely. There are however three other characters in the short story and neither their presence nor meaning is clear, but instead left, perhaps intentionally, ambiguous. These secondary characters are Richards and Josephine, and to a lesser extent, Brently Mallard the husband of Louise. Although Josephine is the one of these that has any lines of dialogue, the role of Richards in the events of the story is arguably much more significant than that of Josephine. He actually serves as the catalyst for the entire story, and without him this hour over which the story takes place would likely be indistinguishable from any other. While there are only five sentences in the story that mention Richards, his character is perhaps the most mysterious and intriguing because of the specific details that are omitted by Chopin and left to be interpreted by the reader. Without any dialogue or insight pertaining to his thoughts or motivations from the narrator his reasons for his actions are uncertain. Josephine, while still left somewhat undefined, is more easily understood than Richards. She is the sister of Louise Mallard, and so her primary actions, which are consoling her sister, expressing great concern for her and her safety, ad perhaps even being somewhat meddlesome into her sister’s privacy, are all typica... ... middle of paper ... ...at is the case there could be differing reasons for Richards to not want her to see him. He could be unaware of the rush of freedom she was experiencing, perhaps assuming her to react as women are expected to react upon being widowed with sincere sadness and feared simply the shock would be dangerous for her. The other motivation to keep Louise from seeing Brently must assume that Richards knows Louise well, and is perceives her feeling the confidence and fulfillment in her autonomy. Seeing her experiencing great consummation, and perhaps also seeing her heart and spirit unconstrained, he may have known that not just the shock of seeing Brently alive was dangerous to her heart, but the crushing realization that she was still in the same prison, she did not have any freedom, in fact had never had any, and likely would never have any was the true danger to her heart.
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