“The Story of an Hour”: by Kate Chopin : The Truth behind the Joy that Kills MrsMallard


The Story of an Hour: by Kate Chopin

Question: The doctors in “the Story of an Hour” claim that Mrs. Mallard dies of “heart disease- of joy that kills”. Discuss the truth of this statement.

Answer : “The Story of an Hour” written by American author Kate Chopin is based on the theme of female self discovery and identity. It is the story which reveals the complicated reaction of Koi use Mallard upon learning of her husband’s death.

     Chopin has used contrast of outer appearance to the inner reality to show Mrs.Mallard’s feelings. Chopin explore the entire range of Mrs.Mallard emotions, anxieties and pysyche from the moment she hears of her husband’s death to hos eventual reappearance.

      Mrs. Louise Mallard was suffered from heart problem therefore , her sister Josephine carefully told her about her husband Brently Mallard’s death in a train accident. Her husband’s friend was also present there to help her. 

        On hearing the tragic news, Mrs. Mallard, at first ” wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment , in her sister’s arms.” 
    When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away upstairs alone to her room.

      It was assumed by others that the news would trigger jer heart trouble and she would be sick at the moment. On the contrary, she was shocked only momentarily and accepted the news suddenly

       Louise stood facing the ‘open window’ . Exhausted, she gazed at the tops of green trees, smells air ” filled with delicious breath of rain” and heard birds signing. She saw the open squares before her house. She also saw ” the patches of blue sky” amid the clouds. 

      For a while she rested motionless in the chair and them sobs. Her still young face whose lines indicated repression and even a strength.

       As she focused on the patches of blue sky, Louise paused. She sensed something coming towards her . She recognized what was trying to “possess her” and she was waiting for it fearfully. “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath “free, free, free!”

    The fear she felt was replaced by a sense of vitality as her pulse beat fast, and rhe coursing blood relaxed her body. 

      She was confined in her marriage with Brently. She has forced herself to submit to the will of her husband because society expected such behaviour. 

      But the bitter moment of her husband’s death helped her to gain her freedom and ” a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely.” She welcomed her free days with open arms. 

       “She would live for herself”,without anyone else’s will bending her own will. Though Louise “sometimes” loved her husband, often she did not. In any case , love did not matter when compared to this recognition and possession of self assertion as the strongest impulse. 
“Free ! Body and soul free !” She kept whispering. 

       Freed from her loveless marriage, she discovered herself and her identity. Now she recognized the idea of self assertion and identity as a woman. 

      She imagined her life without her husband and enjoyed the visions of future. She imagined what it would be like to have spring and summer days ” that would be her own”.

      On her sister Josephine’s repeated requests, Louise opened the door of her room and walked downstairs in triumph thrilled by the thoughts of her freedom .
” There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of victory”. 

     At the same time, Brently Mallard opened the door and walked into the house, all alive, unharmed and unaware of the accident. He was amazed on hearing Josephine’s piercing cry and at Richard’s quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife. 

      Mrs. Mallard however saw her husband and collapsed. When the doctors determined that  Louise

  “died of heart disease – of joy that kills,”  the reader can find out the irony as she was not died of shock of joy over her husband’s survival, but actually she was distressed over losing her new found freedom and return to the slavery of married life where she would be controlled by her husband again. 

    It is ironical that Mrs. Mallard died of an unpleasant shock and not of 
” the joy that kills”.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top