In Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour “Mrs. Mallard is characterized as a fragile woman with” heart trouble” (para. 1). Richards, a friend of her husband, hears the news of the train accident first, at the newspaper. Knowledge of Mrs. Mallard’s heart condition, prompts Richards to contact her sister, Josephine, to deliver the news. “She wept at once” (para. 3). Then Mrs. Mallard went away to her room. Chopin describes Mrs. Mallard as weak and maybe heart broken. Josephine was kneeling at the door with her lips to the keyhole imploring her to open the door. Implying Mrs. Mallard would make herself ill.
At first she takes the news like any loving widower would have. After leaving her sister and Richards, “Mrs. Mallard sank into a roomy chair facing the open window” (para. 4) pressed down by the physical exhaustion that haunted her body, and seemed to reach into her soul. She sat with her head thrown back, motionless except for the sob that broke through, like a child that head cried itself to sleep. (para. 9) it seems Mrs. Mallard is too upset and ill to see any one, and she’s too weak to even get up and open the door. Mrs. Mallard was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke of “repression and even a certain strength” ( para. ) but, now there was a dull stare in her eyes. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a” suspension of intelligent thought. ”
Here, Chopin is describing the moment when Mrs. Mallard realizes she is young and a widow. Then, there is something coming to her and she is waiting for it, fearfully. She felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching towards her through color, scents, and sounds. (para. 9)” When she abandons herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips”. She said it over and over again, under her breath, “Free, free, free! ” Her eyes stayed keen and bright. para. 11) Mrs. Mallard seems to be happy that her husband is dead. She loved him, but not all the time. This is the point that she starts to realize that she can do as she pleases now. She knew she would weep again looking “at the face that had never looked save with love upon her. ”(para. 13).
Chopin is using imagery here so the reader can focus on the sights, smells and sounds Mrs. Mallard hears as she’s realizing that she no longer has to worry about her husband. Maybe she can see her own death approaching. Chopin uses this powerful statement to reveal the irony of this whole story. There would be no powerful will bending her to that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature” (para. 15). Even though Mrs. Mallard keeps whispering, “Free, free, free! Body and soul free! ” She is running out of time herself, and doesn’t realize that what was reaching out to grab her is what you should fear most, Death. As she is “drinking in the elixir of life” (para. 18) through her bedroom window, she is also drinking in her last breaths. Mrs. Mallard breathed a quick little prayer that life would be long (para. 19).
She opens the door, Josephine embraces her, and they descend the stairs. There’s a noise coming from the door, and then someone is using the latchkey. There stands Mr. Mallard, who is alive and well, and has no idea that there was an accident. (para. 21). ” Richards’ was too late”. (para. 22). He tried to screen Mr. Mallard from the view of his wife. When the doctors came they said she died of “heart disease” of joy that kills. Did she die of happiness that she was “free” or, because she was so happy to see her husband alive and well? Chopin uses irony because Mrs. Mallard was happy to be free, and then moments later, she dies herself.