As we read The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin we learn the main character of the story is Mrs. Mallard. She is the character we know the most about and the person around whom all the other characters rally with their concerns when she is informed about the untimely death of her husband. At first her reaction to Mrs. Mallards death appears to be normal however, after a period of reflection things begin to change. A closer look at Mrs. Mallard will reveal that she is a character who is emotional, developed and the main antagonist in her less than perfect marriage.
Once Mrs. Mallard has been informed about the death of her husband she begins to experience a number of emotions. First, she wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sisters arms (Kirszener and Mandell 197). This is what you would expect from most wives once they have learned of the death of a spouse. After her initial reaction Mrs. Mallard embarks on a journey of a rollercoaster of emotions. She struggles with allowing her true emotions about the news remain repressed or letting her feeling come to the surface. She begins to feel that something possesses her even though she is trying to fight these emotions back (198). It appears from the description that Mrs. Mallard has a certain strength but continues to struggle with the emotions of her newfound freedom (198). Once she allows her feeling to come to the surface she begins to have a new awakening that seems to drink a very elixir of life (199). It appears that Mrs. Mallard has allowed her husband to control her psychologically by 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 (198). However, we dont really know what kind of marriage the Mallards had but her need for psychological freedom is very strong. She begins to find a positive psychologically freedom, that she has never been allowed to express in the past by seeing beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come would belong to her absolutely (198). She felt by remaining married she could not be her absolute self. Thing begin to change in a physical form, she begins to show triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory (199). Has her heart trouble of the emotional kind begin to heal? Has the healing begin by the new strength she finds in feeling like a complete new person. Unfortunately, the final physical change for Mrs. Mallard was, when she saw he husband was still alive she died.
A closer look at Mrs. Mallard reveals that her physical appearance shows that she is weak. The author Kate Chopin states at the beginning of the story that Mrs. Mallard is afflicted with heart trouble (197). Shes unwell, but remains refined and continues to act like and be treated like a lady. It appears from the description of her two white slender hands that she doesnt work (198). She is described as young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength (198). Even though Mrs. Mallard is described as young and pretty it appears that the lines on her face indicate she might be holding something back. Mrs. Mallards friends and family appear to put aside their feelings in order to take care of her. Josephine and Richard are making her their first priority by ensuring she get through the news of Mr. Mallards death without dying herself. Richard is so concerned that 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 (197). Richardss main focus is to Mrs. Mallard and her reaction to the news of her husbands death. Josephine comforts her by holding her while she is crying and later by kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission (198). Mrs. Mallard is the protagonist of our story. Her goal is trying to determine how she will live without her husband. She feels that once her goal is accomplished she will be Free! Body and soul free! (198).
Even though Mrs. Mallard is the protagonist of our story she is also our main antagonist. She decided to stay in an unhappy and unfulfilling marriage this is indicated by her statement of and yet she had loved him-sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! (198). The story does not reveal to us if the marriage was abusive or not however, it appears that Mrs. Mallard felt controlled by her husband and indicates her freedom was limited by the following statement, 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 (198). Mrs. Mallard freedom is very short lived. In the end she is her own antagonist when Mr. Mallard appears alive and unharmed from the accident she dies.
In the end Mrs. Mallard dies, does she die from a broken heart or does she die when she realizes that her new found freedom was short lived. It is really sad that her new found freedom lasted for such a little time. Her feelings and emotions are so strong however, her character remains well developed throughout and in the end she is her own antagonists. Then again maybe she remained her own protagonist and her goal was reached to be really free from what appeared to be an unhappy marriage.