Is Brently Mallard unkind to Louise Mallard, or is there some other reason for her saying "free, free, free!" When she hears of his death?
The issue in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," isn't really what Mr. Mallard does or doesn't do. The main issue is that Mrs. Mallard is a female in a patriarchal society and that the death of her husband would, in a way, set her free.
The wife knows she will eventually cry when she sees her husband's body. She considers his "kind, tender hands," for instance. She thinks about his face, which never looked upon her with anything but love. But she also looks forward to long years that "...would belong to her absolutely."
If Mrs. Mallard felt a sense of freedom because her husband was abusive or uncaring, etc., this would be a different kind of story. The issue the story reveals is dependent on Mr. Mallard not having done anything wrong. That is the point.
Mrs. Mallard is elated because she thinks she is now a free woman. Free to determine what she does with her days, free to think what she likes to think, free to love whom she wants to love. She is no longer trapped according to society's dictates. Anything her husband did or didn't personally do is irrelevant.
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