Knowing that Mrs. Mallard
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.
It has her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences. Mrs. Mallard’s husband’s friend Richards was there, too, near her sister. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name heading the list of “killed.” 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.
Josephine was worried. All she could think of before telling her sister the news of the accident was how she would react. It troubled her greatly to think that Louise might get sick upon hearing the bad news.
Louise did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in Josephine’s arms. Josephine could not bear the sight of her sister breaking down like this, but she could do nothing except hold her. When the storm of grief had spent itself, Louise went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.
That didn’t go too well. Hopefully Louise will be well in there, she thought. Josephine and Richards looked at each other, words at the moment weren’t necessary. The looks on their face said it all. They didn’t know what Louise was doing in her room, and this troubled them.
The news had not been so easy on them either. Mr. Mallard had been a dear friend to all those who knew him. “He was a great man, he would be dearly missed” stated Richards. He had been devastated when he heard the news. Josephine was very sad too. Her brother in law had become very dear to her in the years that he and her sister had been married.
“How could this have happened? He was such a hardworking man. He didn’t deserve to die this way, not in a terrible accident like this one. What would Louise do now?” commented Josephine to Richards. She was still taken aback by the event that was taking place. Richards agreed with her silently, nodding his head to her comment. He didn’t know what would be of Mrs. Mallard either. She was not alone though. She had her sister Josephine, and him.
As they both sat in the living room, she and Richards started to discuss Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to the news of her husbands’ death. She didn’t seem to be as distressed by the news as one would think any women would be when they discover that their husband has died a tragic death. “Do you believe he was happy, Richards?” she asked, gaze fixed on the ground.
He didn’t know what to answer to this question. He had always witnessed them being happy. They were always smiling around each other. Mr. Mallard always gloated about his home to the other workers. He always told us stories about how happy his wife made him, and how he didn’t wish for nothing else in the world but to live happily with his wife as they had lived until now. But her reaction gave way to a different understanding. She seemed a tad calm about everything.
Upstairs, Louise had sat on an armchair that was in the center of the room, facing the window. “Dead,” the word repeated itself over and over in her head. “He was dead!” Her husband was dead! What would she do now, she was all alone. She had no one. The person that she had shared her life with for all those years was gone, and had left her alone. All the thoughts that were now running through her head were beginning to confuse her. Was she alone?
She rose, walking towards the window; her gaze was fixed away on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought. She stood at the base of the window, letting the breeze hit her face slowly. There was something coming to her with the breeze. What was it? She did not know. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, and the color that filled that air.
She became agitated. Her breathing started to quicken. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her. When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!” All of a sudden, she wasn’t so taken aback by this feeling.
She did not stop to ask of it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. 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.
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. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.
And yet she had loved him—sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she had suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!
“Free! Body and soul free!” Louise kept whispering.
Josephine became more worried when she noticed that much time had gone by and her sister had still to come down from the bedroom. She and Richards had been commenting on the accident, and what would be of Louise now that her husband had died. “Enough time has passed, let me go to the bedroom and see what is going on,” she said to Richards.
What is happening in that room, she thought? She had to get in there and help her sister. She walked rapidly to the bedroom, and knelt before the closed door with her lips to the key hold, imploring for admission. “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door—you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven’s sake open the door.”
“Go away. I am not making myself ill,” replied the sister from inside the bedroom. No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.
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 would had thought with a shudder that life might be long. Louise arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunity. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.
As she held her sister and they walked slowly, Louise stopped suddenly. She stared at the door in disbelief. Her eyes were betraying her. This could not be happening. “What is the meaning of this?” she said. Someone was walking through the front door. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards’ quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife. But it was all a horrid vision. Louise’s eyes started to shut, and she started to slip from her sisters’ grip, her body limbless, all of a sudden.
“Hurry Richards, do something!” shouted Josephine.
But they had been too late.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of the joy that kills.
In “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, we are told the story of Mrs. Mallard, a woman that has just discovered that her husband has died in a horrible train accident. Upon discovering this news, she is enjoying this new-found freedom that she has obtained by widowing. The original story is told from a third-person limited narration style. The narrator has access to the thoughts and feelings of the main character; Mrs. Mallard. We know what she is thinking throughout the course of the story, and permitted access to her mind, her thoughts and feelings. In my retelling of “The Story of an Hour,” I would like to switch the narration from Mrs. Mallard, to her sister Josephine. Although the original story’s third-person limited narration from Mrs. Mallard’s point of view offers us a detailed view of the main characters thoughts, this retelling uses a third-person omniscient narration style to give the reader access to the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in the story. In this retelling, we get insight to new details and thoughts that were not accessible to the reader with the original narration style.
Throughout the process of “The Story of an Hour,” we are taken through a journey from the eyes of the main character. In my retelling, in addition to still being able to tell what Mrs. Mallard is thinking, we also get to see a lot of the thoughts of the new narrator, Josephine: “Josephine was worried. All she could think of before telling her sister the news of the accident was how she would react. It troubled her greatly to think that Louise might get sick upon hearing the bad news.” Here, we see what Josephine is thinking. She is troubled by the fact that she has to tell her sister such bad news, and she fears her reaction. This offers us a distinct point of view that will give the reader an advantage to understanding the story better.
Upon changing our narration style, this switch gives us new access to things in the retelling that the narrator didn’t have permission to originally. On top of being able to access the thoughts of all characters, we are also able to roam freely in the setting of the story. This gives the reader a new edge. While being in one room, the narrator can also tell what is going on in another room of the story: “She rose, walking towards the window; her gaze was fixed away on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.” The narrator now has access to a different room than her own, in addition to the thoughts of the character in that room. Our new narrator Josephine can tell us what is happening in the room upstairs, which is an essential part to understanding the story in its entity. Had we chose to make our new narration third-person limited from Josephine’s point of view, we would only see what she is thinking. Therefore, we would not get an insight into the happiness that losing her husband has brought Mrs. Mallard, key element in the story.
Finally, from switching our narration style to third-person omniscient, our new permissions to retelling the story are very beneficial. Something that we didn’t have in the original story that we have in the retelling are some thoughts that the characters had of Mr. Mallard. We only hear him be mentioned once in the original and hearing more about him gives the reader a different advantage: “The news had not been so easy on them either. Mr. Mallard had been a dear friend to all those who knew him. ‘He was a great man, he would be dearly missed’ stated Richards.” Here, we get the point of view of a friend of Mr. Mallard, in contrast to only the thoughts of the main character in the original story. Richards who was a great friend of Mr. Mallard is offering the reader his feelings towards the death of his friend, a different approach than the original.
Overall, switching from a third-person limited narration from Mrs. Mallard’s point of view to a third-person omniscient narration from Josephine’s point of view, in “The Story of an Hour” has given the reader quite a few different advantages as to the way they depict the story. With an omniscient narration style, the author can give the reader something more. The reader not only gets to see and hear what Mrs. Mallard is thinking as the main character, but they can also hear what the other characters in the story are thinking. With the ability to move about in the story’s plot and setting, the reader also gets the opportunity to view distinct opinions that help mold how they are able to interpret the story. These are all positive advantages that are obtained by switching from a limited to an omniscient narrator. This switch offers the reader a different understanding of the original “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin.