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Commentary on The Story Of An Hour Essay


In the beginning we find out that Mrs. Mallard is afflicted with heart trouble, and news about her husband's death is brought to her "as gently as possible" (788). Her sister Josephine and her husband's friend Richards, who bring this news to her, honestly believe that Mrs. Mallard would be very upset to hear it, and that it could make her even more ill. Here the reader expects her to be upset and worries about her, too she has heart trouble, and it's very possible that sad news can make her feel worse than usual. Yes, "she wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment" (788), but it's just a first emotional reaction to the news, without deep comprehension of what had happened and how it would change her life.

She comprehends the news only later, and author shows us little by little how she comes to realize it and what helps her to understand it. She goes to her room, and "there stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank" (788). Reading these words, the readers suddenly realize that something turns the story to a more positive, reassuring way. What makes us, readers, to think so? Here we see two things, which make us to feel that way "a comfortable, roomy armchair" as a symbol of security and comfort in spite of her husband's death, and "the open window", which here symbolizes connection to the world, to life.

The next, fifth paragraph, emphasizes these ideas even more and carries more details and fresh elements of the new, positive turn of the story. Through the open window she can see "the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life." "The delicious breath of rain was in the air." "countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves" (788). All these parts of this paragraph show us that Mrs. Mallard gets in touch with life, starts to hear sounds and to smell scents which she didn't feel before. Why? What happened? Does she really start to notice it all only after her husband's death? Yes, and the author gives us even more details, emphasizing it, not yet giving the answer why she starts to feel this way.

However, a careful reader understands the deep sense of the words about "patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds..." (789). These words didn't appear in the story with no reason. All these details make us to feel the growth of Mrs. Mallard's excitement and make us to understand the sign of the meaning of the blue sky a symbol of freedom and future life.

Mrs. Mallard dies "of joy that kills" (790). These words carry the absolutely opposite meaning, than they read. We understand, that the doctors are wrong, thinking that she dies from happiness of seeing her husband again. She chooses rather to die than to live again under her husband's will, especially after experiencing freedom, even just for one hour. This hour in a comfortable armchair in front of the open window made her feel happy and free, made her to understand the sense of her being, and it was the only real hour of her life.

However, for one moment she gets afraid to allow herself to be happy about her freedom "she was striving to beat it back with her will" (789). This shows us that Mrs. Mallard is a "product" of her time and has to be dependent on society rules. She realizes that society would determine her thoughts of freedom inappropriate, but she can't stop herself to feel that way. A calm soul is necessary for a human being and is more important than society standards. Feeling happy she just proves this thought.

However, "she knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death" (789) but it's just a reaction, which society expects her to have. What can compare to "a long procession of years that would belong to her absolutely" (789)! Here the author finally opens a reason why Mrs. Mallard feels this way about her husband's death. "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" (789). These words show the picture of Mrs. Mallard's family life. She was unhappy with her husband; she couldn't have her own opinion and couldn't show her own will, that's why she is happy to be free!

Back then society didn't accept a divorced woman, but it accepted widows, and we realize that being a widow it is the only way for Mrs. Mallard to get free. "Free! Body and soul free! " (789). We read these words and share with Mrs. Mallard her feelings, her excitement and hopes. At this point Mrs. Mallard's sister Josephine is looking ridiculous, with her words "Louise, open the door! you will make yourself ill." (789) because practically, Mrs. Mallard, who is a woman, who had numerous years under her husband's will, finally gets an absolutely freedom, a miraculous freedom, which she even didn't hope to get the day before. However, her sister is far from understanding it.

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