Freedom is defined as “The absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” In the short story entitled “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin Mrs. Mallard the protagonist is experiencing her idea of freedom. This story begins with us finding out perhaps the most important piece of imagery that is “Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble” (Chopin). This sets up the entire plot line and helps it to come full circle. We start off by leaning that Mrs. Mallard’s husband has been killed in a terrible railroad accident. In knowing that she is afflicted with a heart condition her sister Josephine and a friend of her husband named Richard move to break the news of Mr. Mallard’s death to her as easily as possible.
At first she reacts as you would expect anyone learning that a loved one has passed on with disbelief and then that turns to great sorrow for the diseased. She then locks herself in her room to morn. Then however she comes to the realization that with her husband dead that she can peruse all the things she couldn’t do while he was alive. Slowly she comes to terms with his death and starts to relish in it. At first in the story we see dreary and sad images or words that puts forth certain emotions from the reader for example “the delicious breath of rain was in the air” (Chopin) and “In the street below the peddler was crying his wares” these could be viewed as sad and mournful lines portraying her feelings. Then however this starts to change she hears music and the clouds start clearing showing the blue sky and she realizes that in marriage she became repressed and dull. However with the death of her husband she feels a change coming and realizes that she is no longer trapped in that world but is “free, free, free.” (Choplin)
In realizing that she is free she becomes happy and filled with joy. Her eyes became “keen and bright” (Chopin) and “Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed with every inch of her body.” (Chopin) This shows that she accepts her husband’s death and had come to terms with in herself and in doing so she has gained her freedom. She then goes back downstairs, leaving the room where she had locked herself in to bask in her freedom. There however it comes to a horrible end where her husband walks in and the shock of seeing him alive along with her weak heart kills her.
The idea of freedom here however is one that can be debated. Yes she experienced some semblance of freedom with the supposed death of her husband but that was short lived. I think that she was never really free because even after the death of a loved their memory will linger on and impact all that she does. Yes she could have gone out and done anything on a whim now, but really was that truly what she wanted. To her she was now a free woman, free from the chains that bound her in matrimony.
There is also the idea of her attaining freedom through her death at the end of the story. I don’t personally think that death is freedom yes she was free from the relationship with her husband but then that calls into question the idea of life after death, where she can experience that freedom. I can see no plausible basis in fact that she was truly free because what really happens after death. Freedom is something that we as humans like to think we have. Its an idea that has been cultivated and drilled into our heads for all our lives. The idea that all our choices are ours and that we are free to make them. However everything we see and do influences our decisions thereby canceling out our supposed freedom. We can then question whether our decisions really are “our” choice. You are influenced into doing things even if it is subconsciously entering your mind. Thereby I conclude that Mrs. Mallard was never really free because true freedom doesn’t exist.