Is it possible that Mrs. Mallard had a mental disorder? Schizophrenia? Bipolar disorder? Depression?

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bmadnick's profile pic

bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Whether you feel Louise Mallard's "afflictions" are mental or physical, or even a bit of both, what is more important is what has caused them. The total control her husband has had over Louise during the course of their marriage has certainly depressed her. No doubt her depression is deep, since she says she had prayed only the day before for her life to be short. Louise probably went into marriage right from her father's home, so she has been under the rule of a man all of her life. For the first time in her life, Louise can think of what she wants to do with her life. To have the hope of freedom taken away in such a short time is unbearable, and she refuses to continue living if she must go back to her husband's control.

Louise is referred to as Mrs. Mallard until she finds out her husband is dead because she isn't seen by anyone as a woman or as a person. She has always been an extension of her father or her husband with no identity of her own. She becomes Louise when she realizes she is going to have the opportunity to be herself, not the daughter of or the wife of anyone.

The "elixir of life" she drinks from the world outside symbolizes her freedom to enjoy everything the world has to offer her as a woman and a person in her own right.

You might read some other stories of Kate Chopin to understand what her writing is all about. You both bring up some interesting points, however. I love when students interact with the story!

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renelane's profile pic

renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

It can be argued that Mrs. Mallard suffered from depression. The very fact that news of her husband's death causes her to feel relief could be seen as having felt a depression over her life and marriage. It is not a typical reaction to feel relieved at this type of news. The constraints that marriage placed on her could have caused her to be depressed.

There doesn't seem to be a radical shift in mood and temperament to assume she has bipolar disorder, but it is all a matter of perspective. Mrs. Mallard does shift from grief to relief to shock, so a case could be made. I think there is more evidence of depression than bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

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irina33's profile pic

irina33 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

i'm confused about the ending though. You said that she didn't want to be under her husband's control anymore, then how come when she died at the end, she died from "joy that kills"? what was she happy about when her husband walked in?

Is so important to actually try to understand the story when u read it.

"joy that kills" .... this is what the doctor's diagnostic was and that's what he thought it was.  Actually she died because he came back in her life... she was sad and so disapointed just thinking that she has to go back to her old life and live under his rules again.  All her revelations that she had earlier in her room  about freedom and her new life... were dashed in a second, the second that her husband walked in their house .

Too much sadness in this short story .... too bad that Kate Chopin choosed a not happy ending for this story.

irina33's profile pic

irina33 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I also can pose the question, did she commit suicide?  I can ask this based on the fact that it says that, " she was drinking in a very elixir of life through the open window."  If this is so, it could have just so happened that the poison that she had drank affected her when her husband walked in the door.

Do you know what figure of speech means ?  

she was drinking in a very elixir of life through the open window  (she was enjoying every second of happiness)

asubgrl's profile pic

asubgrl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

They think that she was so happy about her husband coming back that she died from excitement.  However, earlier in the story we know that she was very happy that her husband's death had taken place and she didn't have to live under her husband's control any longer.

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sparks108's profile pic

sparks108 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

i'm confused about the ending though. You said that she didn't want to be under her husband's control anymore, then how come when she died at the end, she died from "joy that kills"? what was she happy about when her husband walked in?

asubgrl's profile pic

asubgrl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

You make a very good point.  However, I also can say that when the thing was coming to her from the sky as to possess her, I wonder if that could have possibly been a hallucination.  I had to write a paper about this story the other day and make an argument for it.  I absolutely love this story and all of its hidden meanings of struggle and power.  I agree with the metaphorical side quite strongly but decided to take a more literal approach to this subject.

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asubgrl's profile pic

asubgrl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Also, the reason I wonder about the schizophrenia is because she is referred to as Mrs. Mallard the whole time and then suddenly referred to as Louise.  I was curious as to this being a possibility.  Because Josephine could have possibly been telling her sister to open the door as Mrs. Mallard and then when she didn't answer call her Louise.

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asubgrl's profile pic

asubgrl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I also can pose the question, did she commit suicide?  I can ask this based on the fact that it says that, " she was drinking in a very elixir of life through the open window."  If this is so, it could have just so happened that the poison that she had drank affected her when her husband walked in the door.

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