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Freedom Gained, Freedom Lost

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Freedom Gained, Freedom Lost

In Kate Chopin's short story 'The Story of an Hour', many questions arise on how Mrs. Mallard truly feels about her husband and the marriage in which she thought, mistakenly, was over. At the beginning of the story we learn of a railroad accident that has claimed the life of Brently Mallard, Mrs. Mallard's husband. Upon being the first to learn of the accident, Mr. Mallard's friend Richards goes to the Mallard's to break the tragic news. Knowing that Mrs. Mallard suffers from a heart ailment her sister, Josephine, tries to the break the news to Mrs. Mallard as gently as possible. 'She wept at once, with wild abandonment, in her sister's arms' (69), which of course is to be expected when learning of the loss of your spouse. While still drenched in grief Mrs. Mallard retires to her room where she wants to be left alone.

Once in her room while facing an open window in a comfortable chair she looks outside to the early spring day and the new life it offers, with trees sprouting new leaves, birds chirping in the distance and blue skies peering out from behind the clouds. While sitting there looking out her mind starts to wonder, 'She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought' (70). From these lines we start to piece together how Mrs. Mallard truly feels about her marriage. She was fearful at first to admit to how she was feeling 'striving to beat it back with her will' (70), but with horror and excitement all wrapped up into one she repeats over and over under her breath 'Free, free, free!' (70). Although sure she will weep again at the site of her dead husband, she can no longer keep in the feeling of repression, the dread one feels when placed in a unpleasant situation and how elated one feels to be freed.

Is Mrs. Mallard possibly just bored with the mundane life she is living while married or is there something more? Is she a truly unhappy individual pulled down by the repression of a domineering spouse? We read nothing about Mr. Mallard's behavior towards her so it's hard for us to say. But we do know that she now feels alive in a way she did not prior to learning of her husband's death. 'Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, summer days and all sorts of days that would be her own' (70). I suppose I could relate, being a married woman myself, that although I love my husband very much I do sometimes miss those days of independence, where I can go and do as I very well please with not a soul to answer to! It's hard to say how Mrs. Mallard's



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