Analysis of Mrs.Mallard’s character in “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin.
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Socrates, a Greek philosopher once said: “Each one must know himself.” Unfortunately, most of us are not aware of our true character. Social conventions are the main cause making us repress what we really think and feel. Only when unexpected events happen, we do have an opportunity to take a close look at our hidden “self.””The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin reflects the dramatic development process of Mrs.Mallard’s character through the death of her husband; it demonstrates that the true identity cannot be sheltered forever.
At the beginning of the story, the author describes Mrs.Mallard as a woman having the distinctive trait of self-assertion which is constrained by her marriage. She seems to be the “victim” of an overbearing but occasionally loving husband. Being told of her husband’s death, “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inablity to accept its significance.” This shows that she is not totally locked into marriage as most women in her time. Although “she had loved him–sometimes,” she unconsciously does not want to accept blindly the situation of being controlled by her husband. Mrs.Mallard is not a one-dimentional, clone-like woman having an expected, acceptable emotional response for every life condition.
Mrs.Mallard’s rather uncommon reaction to the news of Mr.Brently Mallard’s death logically foreshadows the complete revelation of her suppressed longing for freedom. Being alone in her room “When the storm of grief” is over, she experiences “something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name.” Finally, she recognizes the freedom she has desired for a long time and it overcomes her sorrow: “Free! Body and soul free! She kept whispering.” In her soul, the dark clouds are disappearing because she is illuminated. All the memories of her husband are now of the past. She is living in the present. At this point, she is no longer “Mrs.Mallard.” She is Louise and is ready to welcome a new horizon of freedom : “Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own.” Overwhelmed with a new sense of herself, she feels as if she was “a goddess of Victory.” In just a brief hour, she learns what it is like to be her own person, to live for herself without the force of her husband’s will. Therefore, at the end of the story, when Brently Mallard returns, her dream is shattered. The sudden death of Mrs.Mallard proves that she is only free when her husband dies, or she herself dies.
In conclusion, “The Story of An Hour” remarkably illustrates the tragic development process of Mrs.Mallard’character under the repression of her marriage. Within an hour, she is given a chance to discover her true character. Everything seems right for her to begin a new life, but the traditional marital relationship has denied to lift its restrictions on her.