Story of an Hour


The Story of an Hour depicts a single hour in Mrs. Mallard life, in which the lady who has a weak heart experiences the momentary joy of freedom after hearing that her husband has been killed in a railroad accident.
Mrs. Mallard initial reaction, upon hearing of her husband death, is not far from what readers expect: she is deeply grieved, weeps and wants to be left alone. However, during the hour she spends alone in her room, her state of mind changes dramatically. Sitting in the armchair motionlessly, she sees spring trees from the open window, smells pure air after the gentle rain, hears a faint but pleasant song, even the patched clouds outside seem to be dispersing decently in the warm and powerful sunshine eventually. All these features imply that an unconscious wish in her heart is quietly but quickly expanding.
At first, she feels something is approaching her, something almost tangible, which she is not sure about: t was too subtle and elusive to name. 71) However, from that moment on, her weeping ith sudden, wild abandonment disappears, he storm of grief goes away, she is turning to the situation where she has longed for. ree, free, free! 71) The first voice of protest breaks out after those tedious, miserable years. Now she realizes the feeling approaching her and possessing her occupies her entire soul and body: his possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being. Free! Body and soul free! 72) These unbelievably radical words show her enormous hunger for freedom, her strong wish to be herself again. Her husband sudden death has made her lifetime emotional torment come to an end, and she can be as free as a man now.
On the other hand, Mrs. Mallard may cry again for the loss of her oving husband not only because of her gender role in the society, but for he still loves her and she herself had loved him as well. Moreover, the story does not tell us whether Mr. Mallard is an abusive or irresponsible husband, but this couple certainly strives for maintaining their unsatisfactory marriage. Besides, no love or security can compensate for a lack of control over her own existence (Skaggs, 53), let alone the fact that there is hardly any love in that fragile relationship.
Ironically, Mrs. Mallard dies of heart attack, in the end, after she sees Mr. Mallard reach home as usual, without his even knowing about the accident. This extremely unexpected ending destroys all her
dreams and wishes of the almost touchable, upcoming wonderful future. Her weak heart cannot endure the enormous disappointment by this last straw and it chooses the real free state of the ultimate joy -- death.