I edited this question as we are no longer answering questions about two separate characters/stories since they count as two different answers.
Mrs. Mallard is a young woman. She is a married woman with a supposed condition described as "heart weakness". When she first receives the news of the death of her husband in a train wreck, she weeps and sinks in despair as it is expected from those who gave her the news.
Yet, we slowly discover that this woman has lived a life of oppression and self denial. She had been living up to the social expectations placed upon women: They must marry, follow and support their husbands, and bear children at some point.
She seems then to be a woman who would have much rather eliminated all of that in favor of living a life of independence and finding herself. Yet, this was no possible. Or was it? Apparently it would have been possible, as she began to realize how she could taste freedom now that she was on her own. As she begins to daydream and drift into her new possibilities, she opens up completely and we perceive the depth of her oppressive life. She desperately wanted out.
Then, as we discover that the husband was not really dead and she comes back to reality, she cannot bear it anymore. She is obviously a woman who has given too much of herself and is desperate to recover it back. Yet, when she cannot bear thinking of her life back to what it was her death is more than just significant: It is symbolic of every person who once makes or needs a change and decides not to ever look back again.