Story of an Hour Characte Analysis
The Story of an Hour,” is a nineteenth century housewife who responds dramatically to a series of life changing events that happen to her and her husband. Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” follows Louise Mallard over the course of an hour, at the beginning of which she faces the realization that her husband is a victim of a railroad disaster. Throughout the course of the story, Mrs. Mallard spends the majority of the time focusing on how this affects her own life, discovering her new found freedoms and lack of strong emotion for the death of her husband.
In the end though, a crushing blow is delivered when it turns out her husband had not, in fact, boarded the train before it departed and the accident took place. It is through these events, that Mrs. Mallard’s emotions and personal thoughts are able to be examined thoroughly. By focusing on her reaction to the news of Mr. Mallard’s death, her emotions and thoughts as she sits alone in her room, and her final reaction when she discovers her husband is alive, it is evident that Mrs.
Mallard is a selfish, conceited, and egotistical wife who cares nothing other than how she benefits from the death of her late husband. When Mrs. Mallard hears the news of her husband’s death, she does not react as most women would. She weeps at once and suddenly, until “the storm of grief had spent itself” (Chopin 197). The fact that it describes her despair as a “storm” signifies that it was fierce, however it was brief. It does not seem like she spent much time in sorrow over her husband’s death. Immediately after her brief outburst, Mrs.
Mallard went to her room alone, and “would have no one follow her” (Chopin 197). That she wanted to be alone and would not allow anyone to come with her shows her concern only for herself, she doesn’t care about the other people’s emotion or that they are there for her, she only wants to take advantage of the situation to think to herself. Wasting no time, “alone and unencumbered in her room, Louise Spontaneously opens herself to the sublimity and grandeur of the physical world around her” (Jamil 217).
As she becomes more and more aware of a rising happiness and sense of freedom, Louise does “not stop to ask if it [is] not a monstrous joy that held her” (Chopin 198); instead, Louise “[dismisses] the suggestion as trivial” (Chopin 198), realizing that the bitter sadness she should feel for her husband’s death is nothing in comparison to the years of freedom she would experience. By this act, Mrs. Mallard shows her true character, placing her life much higher in importance to anyone else; including the person in her life she is supposed to care about the most.
While locked away hiding in her room, Mrs. Mallard spends the entire time raising herself upon a pedestal of self-importance. She focuses on how “she would live for herself” (Chopin 198), not letting anyone influence her in any way. She reflects on her love for her past husband, stating that most often she did not love him, and that it didn’t matter if she did anyways; her freedom was much more important than love. During the time she is in her room, contemplating her freedom, Louise spares no thought for the other members of the family that care for her.
It takes her sister Josephine begging her to open the door before Louise pays any attention, only to reprimand her sister exclaiming that she “is not making [herself] ill” (Chopin 199), and realizes that she is actually “drinking in the very elixir of life” (Chopin 199). The lack of concern and understanding for her families worries, coupled with her extreme focus on how she benefits from her husband’s death further show her sole self-preserving interests even in light of her husband’s death. On top of the time spent alone, and how much she focuses on how she benefits from her husband’s death, the most pressing example of Mrs.
Mallards lack of good nature and pressing self-interest is how she views her life, and how she reacts to her husband’s reemergence. Before her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard “thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 199), showing a complete lack of care for her husband and family and friends she would leave behind after her death. Her sole driving force is to remover herself from the control of her husband, without any thought of the effect it will have on those important in her life. This desire and lack of selflessness is brought to an ultimatum in the closing seen of the story, when Mrs.
Mallard’s husband walks through the door she isn’t able to live. Mrs. Mallard dies “of a heart disease – of joy that kills” (Chopin) essentially choosing death over living her life any longer, sacrificing her husband to deal with the grief of his loss. The final selfish act of choosing her own death in spite of her husband seals the deal on what kind of a character Mrs. Mallard is. Through her own actions and thoughts Mrs. Mallard repeatedly shows that she only has her self-interests at heart; foregoing the feelings of all others, especially her husband’s, Mrs.Mallard proves to be a shallow and egotistical character, who makes a poor wife.