In the short story, "The Story of an Hour" by kate Chopin, what kind of relationships do the Mallards have? Is Brently Mallard unkind to Louise Mallard, or is there some other reason for her saying "free, free, free!" when she hears of his death? How does she feel about him?
Kate Chopin tells us the story of one Louise Mallard in a very subtle and restrictive way. Louise knows herself to be an individual soul and she has no wish to play the role of a conventional ideal wife all her life. Kate avoids giving us minute details about her relation with her husband Brently Mallard.
We don't exactly know why her central character longs so much for her freedom and personal space. If she underwent any kind of physical and mental torture; if her husband was unkind and repressive ~ the readers are open to form their opinions.
Nowhere does Kate mention anything about any kind of unkindness or torture inflicted upon her by her husband. Still the possibility of this can’t be overruled altogether. Her intense longing for freedom suggests something was certainly seriously wrong with her married life; otherwise after hearing her husband’s news why she would be gladdened to think,
“There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself.”
It is also possible that the relation between the couple lacked intimacy and spiritual bonding. They lived together maybe only because they were legally husband and wife. As a result she was only playing a forced part of a housewife. In reality, she longed for a life “that would belong to her absolutely.”
Nevertheless, Kate don't allow her readers to believe that Louise just disliked and hated her husband. Her attachment, though not so deep, to her husband can’t be denied.
When she first hears the news of her husband’s death, it comes as a “storm of grief.” She weeps “with wild abandonment.” Later the narrator tells us, “
“She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead.”
This makes us believe that she might have loved him as well. Her complex situation is found expression in these lines,
“And yet she had loved him--sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!”
To her, love was not a substitute to her personal freedom. She had always longed to assert her individuality. But her marriage life had prevented her to do so. More than anything else her husband was an authority whose presence meant denial of her individuality. If he's there, she has to live according to his will. His presence diminished her existence to a non-entity. So, to Louise, her husband was a force that deprived her right to be free and self-dependent.