“The Story of An Hour” Kate Chopin (1894)

Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death.

It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband’s friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of “killed.” He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.

She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.

There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.

She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.

There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.

She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.

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.

There was 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. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.

Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will–as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been. When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under hte breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.

She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial. She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.

There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.

And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!

“Free! Body and soul free!” she kept whispering.

Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhold, imploring for admission. “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door–you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven’s sake open the door.”

“Go away. I am not making myself ill.” No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.

Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.

She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.

Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards’ quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills.

 

 

60 responses to ““The Story of An Hour” Kate Chopin (1894)

  1. Their relationship, perhaps needed to be revised. One would believe that a husband and wife, would be happy in a marriage, but marriage does come with some responsibilities and ties to one another. One so those ties and responsibilities are broken, I believe that Mrs. Mallard was happy to become Louise once again.

  2. This is a great story its kind of funny She pretends like she is sad that her husband is dead, but inside she is happy he is dead because she is finally free

  3. This is a great story its kind of funny. She acts like she is sad that her husband is dead, but inside she is happy he is dead because she is finally free.

  4. This is my favorite short story that I’ve read to date. The roller coaster of emotions that you experience while reading this is thrilling. Kate Chopin does a great job of pulling you in to every emotion that the main character is going through, from deep sadness, to the realization of freedom from a man she only loved sometimes, but never really loved her back, and finally, the shock of realizing he hadn’t been dead all along. How ironic that they announced her death as a heart over joyed by the sight of her husband. Great story!

  5. In the beginning, Mrs. Mallard thinks that freedom is a terrible thing. She knows that freedom is coming for her when her husband dies, but she dreads it. Once she gets it, she feels overpowered with joy. However, her mental and emotional freedom while being confined in a room. Once she leaves the room, her freedom is taken away from her.

  6. I could understand the whole situation. It would be very confusing for anyone in her situation. To have thought to be free’d from a relationship. She found herself relieved. But when she found her is and had not died, it would be anyone mixed emotions at that point.

  7. Ironic how someone dies from joy, but once reading the story it seemse logical. During that time period men treated their wives more as property than actually partners. Once she heard that her husband had been she realized that she was free. Luckily nowadays this does not happen as often.

  8. It is easy to see the repression of 19th century women leading to women’s sufrage and how it continues today with such subjects such as wage inequality. However, I can’t but feel it is a bit dark to revel that much in a fellow human’s death.

  9. this is a good story very ironic way to die. never really thought that widows can be happy until I read this story sucks how women really did not have any rights back then, so glad they do now.

  10. the story is centered on a young women of the late 19th century as she confronts the world as a widow. Even though it is acknowledge that she is in grief, she interrupts her thoughts with freedom. It is a sad thought to think that you are free from a commitment with a spouse but at the same time you cant dwell on sorrow. In the end a person must live their life;nevertheless, as the story comes to conclusion, she died from “joy that kills”.

  11. It is sad that there are people that are used to settling in their life that they will settle with the person they are going to spend their life with. On the other hand people do marry who they love and through the marriage that is when a person can change into someone completely opposite of who they were in the beginning. I think that is the scariest thing about marriage is that someone can change at any moment and the fact that you should stay with him despite the differences is the hardest realization people have with loving changes.

  12. I remembered this poem now, I read it in High School my junior year in English. I know back in 1894 when women did not have very many rights if any they were seen only as property to their husbands. It is ironic that the women felt joy to hear of her husband’s death but, when he walked through the door she died of panic. The doctors called it a death from “a joy that kills” but we know it wasn’t from joy.

  13. This short story is very ironic and humorous. However, Mrs. Mallard does bring about a interesting topic. Can being in a relationship even if both parties are happy make someone feel suffocated?

  14. Reading this story, I felt it was very obvious that this young woman was trapped in a relationship that she was not comfortable with. It is my understanding that this young was burden by the life she had her husband. Whenever a person has no grief when their spouse dies, they obviously did not want or no longer wanted to be with them. And when death occurs and their is no pain, and is also has a since of freedom. They wanted out along time ago.

  15. I really liked listening to this
    I was happy to know that this woman had found happiness
    I expected her to do something like take her own life
    ,but though she was sad after hearing the news she still stayed strong
    and she died happy
    that’s what matters most

  16. I’ve never heard anyone who is killed by joy, yet how ironic that this story ends this way. A married woman, who seems to be oppressed by her husband, finally gets the chance to breath freedom for a very short period of time and died of sudden suffocation. I am glad the society has changed. Now that men have learned to respect their wives more than they used to be, this same story will hopefully not going to be happening very frequently.

  17. Such an ironic way to end life. She did gain her freedom from him though, just not in the way that she thought. I am curious to know who actually got hurt in the accident. How over-assuming Richard is by saying someone died with only the mere evidence of telegrams etc. Mrs.Mallard experienced so many emotions that it is no wonder how deprived she was in her marriage.

  18. After reading this story, its sad how in the olden days the ladies would be betrothed to a man their father and mother would pick out for them. The ladies wouldn’t have a choice they would just marry them without even knowing them. Its sad how Mrs. Mallard was happy her own husband died in the crash. She was over filled with joy, but once she sees him walk into the house her joy dies and she is stuck still in this marriage she has no desire to be in.

  19. After reading this story I am very glad that times have changed since then. I cannot even begin to imagine to have to live in an era where a wife would be pleased to hear that her husband is dead. Even if you were not his equal in society, I would at least hope loved their women enough to make her feel as though she was an equal to him. It is a good story it is just not my type of happy ending.

  20. When I compare this to the time that it was written this story makes perfect sense to me. This woman probably had little to no choice in who she married. Also if she wanted a divorce then it would have been the man’s doing to get it done. As a married woman she had few rights, but as a single woman she was more equal to a man.

  21. This story demonstrates how valuable freedom is. Freedom is something that people all over the world have fought for since the beginning of time. It is so important not to take the freedom we have for granted.

  22. I think women back then were forced to be subservient, so it is quite understandable that she felt happy when she heard the news of her husband’s death. After hearing the “good-bad” news, she starts thinking of living a new life, one where she didn’t have to be so chained down. Later, when she finds out her husband is still alive, she dies. All of these events cause a rollercoaster of emotions. First she is normal, then sad, then happy/hopeful, and finally sad again. The crumbling of high hopes for a better life along with all those emotions happening within an hour would kill anyone.

  23. Deeply loved this story. I know many women that can be identified with Mrs. Mallard and her feeling of freedom when her husband is not around. When Mrs. Mallard finds out that her husband is dead she cries but after a while she starts rejoicing. For a long time she has been oppressed by her husband and now that he is dead she has the dream of being free. However, her freedom did not last long because her husband was not really dead. This story is a perfect example that women do not need to be abused to be oppressed. Mrs. Mallard’s story applies to many marry women that are unhappy with their lives and feel oppress.

  24. I think that the author of this short story imparted a lot of herself on to the character in this story. However i don’t think it really worked out that well in the context of the story. The author may of had many valid reason as to why she didn’t feel free but when it comes to the character in the story it did a bad job of explaining why she felt trapped. Maybe it has something to do with the time gap Between when this story was written and now and that’s why i don’t understand, but over all the story just didn’t draw me in.

  25. Irony and karma are perhaps the best words to describe this short story. At the beginning of the story, her family is concerned about how she will receive the news of her husbands death due to her weak heart. Ironically she dies from heart failure due to her husbands return. Ultimately, the disappointment of her husbands returned is what killed her.

  26. After writing about this story in class, I feel that the message that convey’s this short story is karma; what goes around, comes around. I’ve read this story many times because I never understood why Mrs. Mallard would pass away if she did not do anything to deserve it? Was Mrs. Mallard a faithful woman? By the end Mrs. Mallard was relieved to hear about her husband’s death, but it doesn’t really discuss why. Some people may say she was abused by her husband but then again was Mrs. Mallard a faithful wife to her husband? The only reason I do not think Mrs. mallard was a faithful women to her husband is because she dies at the end after realizing her husband is still alive. She wanted to be set free and ultimately she finally was.

  27. After reading this short story multiple times i realized, how many couples in todays society actually feel the same way as Mrs. Mallard? How many would be relived if their significant other passed on? How many are anticipating their for their parters death? Then along with these questions comes along the thought of “why”-reasons that cause this way of thinking…or perhaps we are plain animals..selfish and looking out for our selfs? Moreover, in the short story my first impression of Mrs. Mallard was that she was insane! But after analyzing the story i came up with many reasons on her reaction toward her husbands death. Maybe she felt oppressed, controlled, mistreated without a voice. The lack of communication probably elevated to this. Is not clear on the reason why she felt the way she did but she does exclaim, “FREEDOM”. Hmm that says a lot.

  28. after reading this story it seems clear to me that women were seen as property. the woman that a man was with represented his taste and also his status. obviously if she was glamorous and beautiful then that would also represent the status of the couple, but for Mrs.Mallard, she was nothing more than just a piece of property. she felt that was and she also felt a sense of freedom when her husband died. but she realized that all that hope was for nothing, because now she has to go back to her old life of being a slave to her husband

  29. Tears are natural in the situation where you find you no longer have a husband. She cried because it was the natural thing to do . As soon as the truth seeped in. She realized that she was never truly in love, always a slave to that era’s belief that women should follow blindly and with no resistance. Have you ever dreamed of something if not sweet freedom than anything else only for the man which shackled her to oppression come waltzing up to her newfound eyes? She died because her heart was unwilling to be caged once more.

  30. When i first started reading this short story i was shocked at how fast she accepted her husband’s passing, but as i continued reading i realized that this was a women who was not happy in a marriage. She was sad that her husband had died but was full of joy at the fact that she would have her freedom back. It is mentioned in the story that she did love her husband- ” Sometimes”. i though that was a big indicator that something wasn’t right in their marriage. I came to the conclusion that this women was married to a man that was very controlling and took away many of her freedoms. All she wanted after her husbands death was to live the life that was taken away from her. It was a shock to me that her husband didn’t die and even more of a shock to her, i believe she died because she was disappointed. She was disappointed that she didn’t have the freedom that she so much wished for.

  31. I find it rather mind boggling how this story plays out. Mrs. Mallard’s marriage does not seem ordinary whatsoever — she appears to be sad about her husbands death, but happier that she is freed. I personally believe she was a part of domestic abuse which leads Mrs. Mallard to react in such way. It is mentioned numerous times how She was going to be able to live a life of her own. “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself.” It seems to me that Mrs. Mallard married to a controlling manipulative man who doesn’t let her have much freedom. She does mention that it would hurt to see her husband dead, but she ended up dying when she saw him alive?! Something is not right…

  32. It is interesting that she is sad that her husband is dead, but she is happy to be free of marriage and the obligation. She was happy to live the rest of her years by herself. When she found out that he was alive, she ended up dying. It is a strange relationship that she has with her husband. It would seem that she has nothing wrong towards him, but at the same time doesn’t want to be married to him.

  33. I love how the music goes along with the speaker of the short video. No offense but I thought the sorry is kind of funny and sad. The momemt she realized he dead that she is free, and the moment she noticed he was still alive that cause her to die with joy.

  34. This story holds many similiarities to relationhips today that are broken or failed and yet still go on. Perhaps she is in an abusive relationship or in some sort of pickle that she cannot get out of. I can’t imagine living with someone and not being happy, I would most definitely leave.

  35. This is a horrifying look it the life of kept women in the not so distant past. To experience such freedom if only for a moment must have been more than many other women of her time could have enjoyed so fully. Even if Brently Mallard past away, would she not have lost her freedom through a new marriage? Perhaps her death was the only true freedom for women of her time.

  36. After reading Story of an Hour, I realized that Mrs. Mallard is someone who is a victim of an oppressive marriage. Mallard is a married woman who is at home with heart trouble while her husband was at work at the railroad company. When she’s told that her husband had died, she reacts with joy. However, while she celebrates, she says, “I know that I will be sad when I see his body being lowered into the ground, never to be seen again, but I see beyond this bitter moment.” Her reaction doesn’t really suggest as vengeful since she will cry at the funeral. She never explains exactly why she’s happy, but she views her husband’s death as a release from oppresion.

  37. When I first saw this in class i thought it was quite unsettling just because when she finds out her husband has died she show zero sadness. Instead she’s filled with excitement and happiness because she’s “free.” But after thinking of the time period i can see why she might be happy. Women in this time period were basically property and and were not able to do anything so i kind of felt the devastation in the end when her husband comes home. It’s sort of like getting your hopes up by someone and them just letting you down.

  38. When she got the news her husband had died I didn’t expect her to have the reaction she did. She sounded happy and free like if her husband was holding her back or hurting her. Not many people would react like this if they got news that a loved one died which is why I think she was unhappy or was being hurt by her husband because she seemed relieved when she got the news. It’s an interesting, yet weird story.

  39. Priscilla K. Cornejo

    I don’t think she wanted her husband dead intentionally I honestly think like many others stated she was happy that was free from being suffocated in her marriage. I feel her happiness is a symbol of a new life of finding herself again.

  40. I was shocked how she handled the passing of her loved one. Most people are depressed or down for a long time but she accepted the fact that he was gone and made the best of it. I don’t think I would be able to do what she did.

  41. It is weird to think that after someone dies then you would be happy, but it all depends on how people see things. in this story if she could handle not being sad and getting over the death i applaud her cause its not easy to do no matter what the situation.

  42. It’s crazy how she explain that she loves her husband a lot but at the same time after dead of her husband she is happy.

  43. I understand the relief and sudden freedom that Mrs. Mallard felt at the passing of her husband. It was not that she wanted him dead or that she did not love nor miss him. When a person gets married if they are not careful there is a potential for each individual to lose themselves within their new roles and positions.

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  45. This is an excellent sort story, just to think that this story was written in the late 19th century a time when women were bound by religious teachings, convention, and by their own clothes. Yet this female writer had the audacity to write a provocative and scandalous novel for those times.

  46. it was a nice turn around instead of most morning their loved one she simply changed and embraced being a widow and enjoyed it as best as she could.

  47. This story freaked me out… I guess if she had an abusive husband I could understand why she would be happy, but if not then I just think she’s a chump. Basically this story was reeaalllyy weird to me…

  48. I wouldn’t expect most people to be like this after a passing of a loved one but i guess everyone deals with things differently.

  49. It was definitely wrong that she would have the feeling of joy that a loved one has passed, but it was wrong that husband made her feel so trapped and confined to not be herself.

  50. I sure do hope that my future wife does not throw a party in her brain when she finds out that I passed away! I wonder what kind of husband he was. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this short story it had me at the edge of my seat.

  51. This story was extremely odd. Mrs. Mallard’s reaction about her husband was full of mixed emotions. It made me think of the quote “You don’t know what you have until its gone” and for Mrs. Mallards case she was extremely happy this tragic had happened because she was starting to experience a new meaning to life; happiness. Sometimes a person thinks they are “happy” with their significant other but when left alone one can realize that they are happy with or without them. Moreover, the ending was sad, the joy that kills.

  52. very surprising twist to the story. at the beginning of the film, i was feeling the pain for her, thinking how horrible would that be to go through! then once i figured out that atlas she felt free and pure joy, it was somewhat disturbing, and then i felt for the husband, thinking how horrible would it be to leave this world and know that my wife is forever happy now that i am gone. then the biggest twist at the end! very interesting film, very weird and kind of creepy!

  53. I dont know if its a good or bad thing that she feels free when her husband dies because her husband is not a bad man. I guess she just has a spirit that wants to run free and not be bound down to a man. Its so impressive how descriptive she is when she speaks about what she see’s out the window. Its like everything got brighter and she can breath more now that her husband is dead. Its kind of ironic how she dies at the end and the doctor says its “of the joy that kills.”

  54. This is a story that seems to be very ironic. It forces you, in a way, to look at death and joy in a different way. Mrs. Mallard, just having gone through the death of her husband seems to be taking it very well. She seems to see this death as a freeing experience. What i took out of this story is that marriage is nothing to be taken lightly. Many people nowadays just marry one another like its nothing and i think that is why there is such a high divorce rate. Marry someone because you know that you know that you love them. That way you will not end up feeling repressed like Mrs. Mallard

  55. I can feel how joyful Mrs. Mallard is. This story changed my view of widow. I have never thought that, sometimes, widow can be happy from ex-husband’s death. I wonder how much Mrs.Mallard was suffering from her married life. Did she hate her married life so much that she can easily get over one human being’s death? In this story “death” means “salvation.” This is so irony. And at the end, when joy killed her, it was another irony. Changing whole perspective of readers, this story is quite interesting.

  56. I particularly love ironic humor. This story really made me laugh! I did enjoy the steady build up through out this story right up unil the climax where it just drops you of a cliff when the husband reappears.

  57. I remember reading this story back in high school. There was a bit of humor in it, but as I read it again it was kind of surprising and a bit ironic. Surprising because of her fellings of joy and happiness when she found out such tragic news. They was she reacted did not seem right for a normal person. The ending was ironic because after all the joy she felt from being free, that is what was the thing that supposedly killed her.

  58. Through the first read several things stood out. First you will notice how the woman of the story is simply referred to as Mrs. Mallard, an appendage of Brently Mallard, then when she is free she is referred to as Louise, her first name. In addition, it seems as if Chopin is showing us a social situation of the times with the woman as prisoner of her husband. It is common knowledge that marriages are not always about mutual love between two people and during the time that Chopin was writing, this was more often the case. Marriage was as much about monetary comfort, social status and acceptance as it was about possible love. It seems from the description that Mrs. Mallard has been trapped in this marriage for a long time even though we know she is young. Might it be that she has been coerced by her society to marry despite what she may want to do in her heart and soul? I believe she does love her husband, but it is possible to love a man and not be married to him. This was not her case; if she were able (meaning a man would agree with her decision) and she did engage in a loving relationship with a man who was not her husband, she would have certainly been looked down upon. Is her heart condition purely physical or is it also psychological and emotional? We know the stereotypes, as Chopin did, that women are hysterical, timid, weak, irrational. Could it be that her heart condition is created by those tip-toeing around her in conjunction with her own emotional weaknesses?

  59. I loved how this woman, Mrs. Mallard showed such enthusiasm about beginning her new life as a widow. It is sad that her married life, though tender and loving still caused her to feel repressed and only through her husband’s supposed death to begin to realize herself. It imagery was striking in that the only allusion to the end of life during her private contemplation, is that her “open window” faces west. All other imagery related are symbolistic of a new beginning

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