Explain Louise Mallard’s outlook on time before and after she hears of her husband’s death in "The Story of an Hour."

In "The Story of an Hour," before she heard of her husband's death, Louise Mallard dreaded having too much time, shuddering at the thought that "life might be long." After she hears the news of his death, she looks ahead joyfully to all the time she has left.

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As Louise sits in a room by herself and contemplates the news of her husband's death, she muses on the fact that when her husband was still alive

she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.

Now, she feels liberated or, as she puts it, "free, free, free!" Time no longer weighs heavily on her. She imagines herself opening her arms and welcoming in years that would "belong to her absolutely."

Louise is very clear that her husband loved her and that she, in her fashion, loved him—sometimes. Her feelings of joy to be free have nothing to do with him having been a bad husband. She knows, too, that she will grieve for him and miss him as time unfolds. Nevertheless, the awareness of being in charge of her destiny makes the time that once dragged now seem light and airy, full of new possibilities. Now she wants to seize all the time she can to have enough time to do all that she wishes.

The story is about the yearning of every human soul to be free to follow its own will and desires but especially those of women, who were often forced in that era to bend to their husbands. Louise looks forward to the coming years as a time in which she can live for herself, not another person. However, her time of happiness will be very short.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 19, 2021
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