When the author says that Mrs. Mallard "abandoned herself," she means that Mrs. Mallard has finally given herself permission to think with pleasure at the new life of freedom she thinks she will now have without her husband. Notice it says after this moment that "her pulses beat fast" and "coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body." As a matter of fact, at this moment of realization she is more fully alive than she has ever been. With the beautiful spring weather outside her open window symbolizing her hope for a new beginning as a free woman, the author says that she is "drinking in the elixir of life" as she stands there. An "elixir" is defined as a liquid used as a medicine and taken to cure sickness. Mrs. Mallard's sickness was her oppression as a married women who had to submit her own desires to the will of her husband. Though Mrs. Mallard does "clasp her sister's waist" as she walks down the stairs, she is not weak. As a matter of fact, the text says that she carried herself "like a goddess of Victory." Josephine's cry is one of shock at seeing Brently Mallard alive, and Richards tries to keep Brently from Mrs. Mallard's vision because of her already existing heart condition. He is afraid even a "good surprise" at this point would threaten her health. Ironically, her death is the result of knowing that her dreams of freedom are now dead, simply because her husband is alive after all.