Dramatic irony occurs when the reader knows something important that a character in a story does not know. In "The Story of an Hour," Kate Chopin uses dramatic irony at the end of the story when the doctors assume that Mrs. Mallard has been overcome by the "joy" of seeing her husband, whom she had thought was dead. Because she had a heart condition, they think the shock of happiness killed her. In reality, however, it was the shock of disappointment that killed her because she had come to realize that her life would be so much better without her husband's benevolent "repression." It had recently dawned on her that life provided many more opportunities for her without the leadership of her husband. Mrs. Mallard lived in a period of history when husbands made most of the important decisions for their wives. Mrs. Mallard was looking forward to being free of that guidance and living life for herself. The doctors, being men, have absolutely no idea that Mrs. Mallard died because she simply could not handle the idea that all her dreams would have to be abandoned with the presence of her living husband.