Kate Chopins character Louise Mallard in The Story of an Hour is made realistic through her internal conflict over how she is expected or supposed to feel about her husbands death, as opposed to how she actually feels. It is her revelations that really make Mrs. Mallard relatable and complex. Her unexpected new feelings are the keys to her complexity; without which she would be flat and dull. Mrs. Mallard is a young woman with a heart problem, whom is expected to be devastated and destroyed over the sudden death of her husband, instead, she finds herself happy, feeling hopeful for the future, and most importantly, free.
Mrs. Mallard finds herself happy over the death of her husband; not happy that he died, but happy because until this point she was unhappy with her life. Mrs. Mallard fulfilled her role as a wife; however, it was not what made her happy; she did not even realize she was unhappy until being told that Mr. Mallard was dead. First, Mrs. Mallard sits alone in her room crying and accepting Mr. Mallards death, then she takes notice of an open window and a comfortable, roomy armchair (293). A woman who lost her husband and was crushed by this would not notice the openness and inviting quality of the armchair; rather, she would feel the chair was too big, cold and empty. Then, while sitting in the chair, looking outside at the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life (293), Mrs. Mallard is again taking notice of the beauty of the world and the possibility of new life; her world is now opening up, instead of closing in on her like the depression most women in her situation would feel. Finally, after accepting her feelings of happiness she did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her (294), Mrs. Mallard knows that she is happy; that she is now looking forward to the years ahead; that her life has finally begun.
Mrs. Mallard, after years of oppression, is now liberated, hopeful and looking forward to the coming years. She allows her mind to soar, and realizes that 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 (294). Louise Mallard loved her husband, he was a good man who only ever loved her, but she did not enjoy her life with him. She is looking ahead to the years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome (294). When Mrs. Mallard is supposed to be feeling hopeless and lost, she is instead feeling finally hopeful and found. She finally has the opportunity to be her own woman, no longer having to live for anyone else, a man who would tell her what to do, how to do it, and when (294). Louise Mallard was unquestionably a wife first, putting her own needs and wants aside to take care of her husband; but, after his death she is allowing herself to be first.
More importantly than anything, Mrs. Mallard is now feeling free without her husband. At first, the feeling sneaks up on her while she is still crying over Mr. Mallards death; she tries to reject it, but cannot (294). Then, she accepts her new found freedom, whispering, Free! Body and soul free (294). While relishing her new freedom, her sister Josephine, unknowing how Mrs. Mallard is reacting, begs her to come out; so, 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 (294). She feels as though she has won some unknown battle, like her marriage was a challenge that she has finally beat. Mrs. Mallard is free from the ties of being a wife, she is once again happy and her own woman.
The complex feelings happening inside Mrs. Mallards mind bring her character to life. While attempting to mourn her husband, she is surprised by the uproar of contradictory feelings, instead of being sad, depressed and feeling lost and alone, Mrs. Mallard is happy, hopeful and most importantly, feeling free. Not many women in Louise Mallards position would admit to having these feelings, nor would they accept them so willingly. Mrs. Mallard is a unique woman whose whole world has been turned upside down, and yet, she takes the change and runs with it.