The Story of an Hour Questions and Answers
by Kate Chopin

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How does Mrs. Mallard respond to her husband's death at the beginning of the story?

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Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" describes a woman's reaction to the news of her husband's death (though, as the story later reveals, this news is mistaken), with her ultimately experiencing a profound sense of liberation in her new status as a widow.

At the same time, however, her initial reaction is an overwhelming outpouring of emotion, which Chopin herself refers to as a "storm of grief." Louise Mallard is described as crying to a level that leaves her emotionally drained. It is here, in this state of profound emotional exhaustion, that she retreats to her room and comes to her epiphany. Her husband's death means that she, for the first time in her life, wields real agency over her destiny.

I think her emotions in this scene are actually very complicated and murky, and my own reading is that her initial grief is entirely authentic. Emotions are rarely straightforward, and one can simultaneously feel great joy and relief as well as sorrow. This seems to be the case here. This can...

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