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Character Analysis in The Story of an Hour

Louise Mallard: The main character in Chopin's short story, Louise exhibits an apparent contradiction in her character from the beginning: She weeps wildly when she gets the news of her husband’s death, and readers aren’t given any reason to doubt that her tears are genuine. However, moments later she is overtaken by a clear, strong feeling of joy at the freedom that her husband’s death has opened for her. Chopin allows both sentiments, grief and joy, to coexist in Louise, though the latter becomes the more prominent of the two. Her experience of marital love is complex, but ultimately disappointing.

Character Analysis Examples in The Story of an Hour:

The Story of an Hour

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"It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long...."   (The Story of an Hour)

Before the news of her husband’s death, the idea of living a long life had seemed terrible to Louise because she didn’t feel that she was free. Now that she is free, she is excited about the idea of living a long life on her own terms. Chopin is showing how deeply the lack of freedom, the bending herself to her husband’s will, had troubled Louise.

"as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams...."   (The Story of an Hour)

In this simile, Louise is compared to a child that has exhausted itself from crying, yet cannot stop even in sleep. This simile reemphasizes Louise's fragility and vulnerability, which were introduced at the beginning of the story.

"She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same..."   (The Story of an Hour)

Chopin contrasts Louise Mallard with how other women would be expected to react to such news: shock, paralysis, and an inability to comprehend events. However, Louise is not paralyzed by the news; she understands it immediately. Her ability to accept her husband’s death foreshadows her eventual reaction to the news, her true feelings about it, which she may not even understand at this point.

"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...."   (The Story of an Hour)

Kate Chopin introduces Louise Mallard as a woman with a health condition whom others need to deal carefully with. The others worry that the news of Louise’s husband’s death could threaten her own life if not delivered gently. This initial portrayal characterizes Louise as delicate and needing careful attention.

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