Kate Chopin’s “The Story of An Hour” focuses on a woman named Louise Mallard and her reaction to finding out about her husband’s death. The descriptions that the author uses in the story have significance in the plot because they foreshadow the ending.
This story mainly follows a woman with heart trouble. Her husband’s name appears at the top of a list of people killed in a railroad accident. The story than explains her reaction upon finding out about his death. At the end of the story, her husband (who never actually even knew about the accident) shows up at the door of their house. When she sees him, she has a heart attack and dies.
Chopin describes her as a fragile woman. Because she was “afflicted with a heart trouble,” when she receives notification of her husband’s passing, “great care was taken” to break the news “as gently as possible” (1). Josephine, her sister, and Richards, her husband’s friend, expect her to be devastated over this news, and they fear that the depression could kill her because of her weak heart. Richards was “in the newspaper office when the intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of killed” (1). He therefore is one of the first people to know about his death. Knowing about Mrs. Mallard’s heart, he realizes that they need to take caution in letting Mrs. Mallard know about it. Josephine told her because Richards feared “any less careful, less tender” person relaying the message to Louise Mallard (1). Because of her heart trouble, they think that if the message of her husband’s death is delivered to her the wrong way, her heart would not be able to withstand it. They also think that if someone practices caution in giving her the message, that, while she would be depressed and devastated, her heart wouldn’t be affected as badly and they would not have to deal with the agony of a second death. Once her “storm of grief” was over, she left the room (1).
Upon reading this story for the first time, her reaction to her husband’s death comes as a surprise because Richards and Josephine, and even the reader would expect the complete opposite. She considered herself “free” (2). Apparently, her marriage had felt to her like a...