The Story of an Hour (Chopin)

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The Story of an Hour
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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman with heart trouble was gently informed of her husband's death in an accident. She experienced newfound freedom, but when her husband unexpectedly returned alive, she died from a heart attack.

Mrs. Louise Mallard, a young woman with heart trouble, was informed by her sister Josephine and her husband's friend Richards about the tragic death of her husband, Brently Mallard, in a railroad accident.

Mrs. Louise Mallard — protagonist; woman with heart trouble; young, fair, calm face, repressed; experiences a newfound sense of freedom after hearing of her husband's death.
Josephine — Louise's sister; caring, concerned for her sister's health; breaks the news of Brently's death to Louise.
Brently Mallard — Louise's husband; presumed dead in a railroad accident; unexpectedly returns home at the end of the story.

The news was delivered gently, considering her delicate health. Upon hearing the news, Mrs. Mallard wept uncontrollably in her sister's arms. After the initial outburst of grief, she retreated to her room, seeking solitude.

In her room, Mrs. Mallard sat in a comfortable armchair facing an open window. She observed the vibrant spring life outside, with trees swaying, birds singing, and the scent of rain in the air. As she sat motionless, she began to experience a strange feeling, something she could not quite identify. This feeling grew stronger, and she realized it was a sense of freedom that she had never experienced before.

She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!"

Mrs. Mallard whispered the word "free" to herself, embracing the idea that she could now live her life for herself, without the constraints of marriage. She acknowledged that she had loved her husband at times, but also admitted that she had often not loved him. This newfound freedom became the most powerful impulse in her life.

Meanwhile, Josephine, concerned for her sister's well-being, pleaded with her to open the door. Eventually, Mrs. Mallard emerged from her room, her eyes shining with a feverish triumph. Together, the sisters descended the stairs, where Richards was waiting for them.

Unexpectedly, the front door opened, and Brently Mallard entered the house, completely unaware of the reported accident and his presumed death. Upon seeing her husband alive, Mrs. Mallard suffered a heart attack and died.

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

The doctors later concluded that her death was caused by the overwhelming joy of seeing her husband alive.