Is the conflict in The Story of an Hour resolved?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are several conflicts that are transpiring in the "The Story of an Hour."  One conflict is the most elemental one that starts the story.  The opening conflict is the sadness which is felt when news arrives that Brently Mallard is dead.  This conflict is resolved in one sense because he is not dead at all, being nowhere near the accidnt.  This, of course, leads to a more complex issue. 

At the start of the story, Mrs. Mallard is inconsolable about her husband's death.  She represents the dutiful notion of a wife in her mourning and absolute sense of being shattered with the death, unable to conceive of a life of her own devoid of his presence.  However, as she is in that room, a new sense of awakening happens.  She ruminates on the new identity that awaits her and the new sense of autonomy and freedom that now lie in front of her.  We do not get the impression that Mrs. Mallard will remarry and eagerly seek out another suitor immediately.  Rather, we understand that she is going to assume the new vision or commencement of her freedom.  In one sense, this helps to resolve the initial grief of her husband's death, for as she leaves the room, she clutches the waist of her sister looking lie a "triumphant goddess." 

As she descends down the staircase with her sister, she has resolved the conflict that was first laid at her doorstep.  This, of course, is abruptly cut short when her husband stands at the doorway, unharmed and nowhere near the accident.  Prior to Mrs. Mallard's epiphany about her newly conceived freedom, the conflict would have been resolved in a succinct manner.  Yet, armed with her new notion of self, the presence of her husband raises a new conflict in that there is a collision between Mrs. Mallard as a wife and Mrs. Mallard as a woman. 

The playing out of this conflict might not be necessarily resolved, but is ended when she dies of "a joy that kills."  Her death ends up silencing this conflict between the life of traditional servitude in marriage that denies freedom and the autonomy of living on her own.  Her death resolves this conflict in one way or another.

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