In the last paragraph, what judgment is being made about how men view their importance to women?

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The doctors have such an inflated view of themselves as a gender in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," that they assume that when Mrs. Mallard dies of shock and heart failure as her husband appears, the cause must be her extreme happiness. 

Of course, the doctors reflect the attitudes of the others in the room, including, as far as we know, Mrs. Mallard's sister.  And, by extension, they apply to the society in which the story occurs.  We understand this based on Mrs. Mallard's thoughts, her looking forward to days during which she would belong totally to herself and would not have to live for others. 

Incidentally, we as readers assume the doctors are male, the story doesn't identify them.  And, of course, in the society of the story and in Chopin's lifetime, they almost certainly would have been.

mkcapen1 | Student

"When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease--of the joy that kills."(Chopin)

The short story "The Story of an Hour" is the story of a woman who lives in a Victorian society that expects her to remain weak and demure and controlled by the men in her world, her doctor and her husband.  She has been kept as a prisoner in many ways because "of her heart condition" which was almost expected of a woman of her era.

The woman learns her husband had boarded a train that had wrecked and had no surviving passengers.  She is initially shocked but begins to feel freedom and joy at no longer having to live as a sick woman entrapped in her home.

When her husband returns home and goes through the door, she sees him, lets out a piercing scream and dies.  The last line says how the people of the day thought.  The woman is believed to have died from being over happy at her husband's return.   The idea that the end of her hopes and dreams were taken away by his presence is unimaginable to the people around her.

Women were believed to exist only for their husband.

Read the study guide:
The Story of an Hour

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