In "The Story of An Hour," who or what is the antagonist and what is the story's central conflict?

The traditional, sexist late-1800s American society is the story's main antagonist. The story's central conflict concerns Brently's death and Louise Mallard's reaction to hearing the tragic news.

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One could argue that the traditional, chauvinistic American society of the late 1800s is the primary antagonist in the story—it is an oppressive, controlling force on Louise Mallard, who feels stifled in her marriage and mundane life. The story's central conflict revolves around the sudden death of Brently Mallard, her husband, and includes Louise's response to the shocking news. Louise learns that her husband died in a railroad accident and goes upstairs to grieve by herself. Once Louise is in her upstairs bedroom, she notices the peaceful spring day and contemplates her future without marital obligations or bending to her husband's will. As Louise daydreams about her future as a widow, she is overcome with joy and experiences a sense of freedom for the first time.

Louise's epiphany underscores the repressive nature of marriages in the period. As a woman, Louise Mallard was expected to sacrifice her personal freedoms and behave like an obedient, passive housewife. Society expected...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 820 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on September 11, 2020
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