In "The Story of an Hour," does reality eventually intrude on the character's discoveries and changes?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most definitely. Let us just briefly remind ourselves of what happens in this classic story that features an incredible epiphany. Mrs. Mallard, having been told of the death of her husband, quickly realises, after an initial outburst of grief and sadness, that actually she is now free to experience liberty and enjoy life without her marriage and her realtionship to her husband hindering her. Note what the text tells us about her feelings and what she is experiencing:

There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which mena nd women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.

Mrs. Mallard experiences an epiphany about how she has lived her life up until this point, and in particular, how her marriage had actually oppressed her and prevented her from being truly free.

However, reality in the form of her husband reimposes itself harshly upon her in the final lines of the story, as her husband reappears, and thanks to a miscommunication had been reported as dead when he was very much alive. Having tasted, however briefly of the freedom that she thought was hers to savour for the rest of her life, Mrs. Mallard dies as a response to the shock of having that freedom snatched away from her once again. In spite of her epiphany and changes and discoveries, reality returns her to her starting point, which is intolerable for her, resulting in her death.

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The Story of an Hour

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