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The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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In "The Story of an Hour," describe how the events of the plot cause Mrs. Mallard’s fortunes to rise and fall.

There are two key events that shape Mrs. Mallard's experiences in "The Story of an Hour," each revelatory in nature. The first occurs when she is told her husband has died. This sets her into an intense grief, but as her grief exhausts itself, she enters into euphoria, equating her widowhood with an agency she hasn't experienced. However, the initial news was mistaken. She emerges from her room to find her husband still alive. The resulting shock kills her.

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The plot of "The Story of an Hour" is very much shaped by two key revelatory events, the first at the story's beginning and the second at its end. In the context of these two turning points, Mrs. Mallard's own experience is shaped.

The first revelation comes at the very beginning of the story, when we learn that Mrs. Mallard's husband has died. When she is alerted to this tragedy, Mrs. Mallard falls into an intense grief. Ultimately, this is a story of a highly psychological tenor, following Mrs. Mallard as she processes the news of her husband's death and eventually comes to an epiphany, perceiving that her widowhood would ensure for her an agency she has never experienced before.

As this initial outpouring of grief exhausts itself, she retreats into her room and sinks into a chair, facing the window outside. It is in this moment that her mental state begins to turn, turning towards euphoria, as she equates her husband's death with a freedom she has never before known. This entire mental journey—from intense grief to emotional exhaustion and finally into joy—all stem from that same initial revelation that opens the story, when she receives word of her husband's death.

However, as the story ends, it turns out that reality is quite different, for her husband returns home, still alive. (This is the second revelatory event: where we learn that her husband had not died after all.) When she emerges from her room, she beholds her husband. The surprise proves too much for her weak heart, causing her to die.

Thus, in between these two events, Mrs. Mallard experiences a wide range of emotions, transitioning from intense grief to emotional exhaustion to exultation, before finally the shock that leads to her death.

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