- We really wanted to spend more time looking at the ending of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” What do we understand about Mrs. Mallard’s desire for freedom in the story? Does she have freedom at the end of the story?
I believe that it is safe to assume that Mrs. Mallard was too overwhelmed by the thought of freedom due to the fact that she was deprived of it for so long. She had, up until the moment she was given the news of her husband’s alleged death, been emotionally suffocated by him. Seen when the narrator describes the state of Mrs. Mallards’ face as being one, ” whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength”, we can assume that the lines on her face were being repressed by Mr. Mallard, and that those lines were made by her smile, that for years Mrs. Mallard was not happy throughout the course of her marriage. But the lines on her face could also refer to Mrs. Mallard’s physical appearance, wrinkles, and this line could be referring to the social exceptions that demand she force herself to look beautiful and young for the sake of her husband’s happiness. “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself… 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.” There was a clear shift in tone in this short story from mournful to a sigh of relief, Mrs. Mallard at first sign of news cried her eyes out, then locked herself in a room to be alone, only to be confronted by this idea of what now? Then her attitude begins to shift realizing the benefits of her husband passing and claiming freedom as her own. And she did not hate her husband rather she saw that as long as he was alive she could not be free, “she knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.” By the end of the story Mrs. Mallard is free she dies before being informed that her husband is alive, so in her mind she was free, and her freedom is shown through a change in how she is addressed. From the beginning she was introduced as Mrs. Mallard, and it is usual in “traditional circumstances” that upon marriage the woman takes the man’s last name. So she is only known as being someone’s wife. She continues to be addressed throughout the story as Mrs. Mallard, until her sister Josephine addresses her as “Louise” shedding her title, “Mrs”. She was no longer a wife, shed the title of “Mrs.”, and she was able to reclaim her identity through being called by her name. Which made her free in the end.