IN THE STORY OF AN HOUR WHAT DOES THE DOCTORS SAY WAS THE CAUSE OF MRS. MALLARDS DEATH
The last line of “The Story of an Hour” says: “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease--of the joy that kills.” In the story, Louise Mallard seems, at first, very distressed by the death of her husband, Brently. “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. “ Once she gets to her room, however, she is calmer, occasionally sobbing while looking out the window. As she sits in the room, a realization comes to her. She realizes that she is free. She realizes that never again will she have to live her life according to the wishes of a man. “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself.” As she comes to terms with this, she actually feels joyful. She cannot even open the door to her sister because she is afraid her sister will see the feelings that have overcome her. Finally, she opens the door and goes downstairs with her sister—only to see her husband standing at the bottom of the stairs. At this point, she has a heart attack and dies. Her death, then, is thought to be the result of seeing her husband again, being overjoyed, and dying as a result of this joy –“The joy that kills.” This is ironic, of course, because she is not overjoyed to see her husband, and this is the reason she dies.