What do we learn about Louise's husband? How has he justified her responses? How are your judgments about him controlled by the context of the story?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We learn that Louise's husband was kind, and that he loved her very much.  After her initial tearful outburst, Louise calms down, but "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 is perhaps the most important and only real, specific detail we learn about her husband.  Most of the other thoughts Louise has have more to do with disliking the institution of marriage in general rather than her husband himself.  For example, she thinks

There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself.  There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.  A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.

And yet, this is precisely the power that marriage in this era granted to the husband.  The Victorian wife really has no legal identity, as her husband's identity "covers" hers; he would have the legal authority to make decisions on her behalf—she could not even vote in elections, which was true of all women.  

Therefore, it seems as though Louise does feel somewhat sad that her husband has died tragically, but—and more importantly—her main impulse is to rejoice that she will now have "all sorts of days that would be her own." She wishes that life will be long when, only days before, such a thought had made her shudder.  Brently has justified Louise's response to his death, simply because he was her husband.  That is, he wasn't abusive or cruel; he most likely simply exercised his legal right to govern her.  

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We learn little about Louise's husband Brently. We learn that she experienced him bending her to his will, and that she admits he had a kind intent when he reshaped her in this way. Because this story focus on Louise and what she's experienced of and from life, that shapes our understanding of and exposure to Brently.

Personally, I think that's intentional. I think Chopin was showing him as all men of the period, rather than anything especially abusive as an individual.

snazario | Student

Louise barely offers any information on her husband. We as readers can come up with some conclusion due to the way that she reacts in learning that her husband has died. We could probably say that he did not allow her to have a say in anything or do anything. This is a conclusion that we could come up with when she expresses that she is "Free! Body and soul free!"and when she mentions that "...she would live for herself." This is a reaction that she offers because of a negative way that her husband have had to treat her. When a person lives a wonderful life with their partner this is not a normal reaction that a person would have in losing their partner.

By Mrs. Mallard responding this way I personally dislike her husband. The reason for me to dislike him is because of the way she reacts; to me it is not normal for a wife to react like that. I pictured her husband a person that worked a lot and pay very little attention to her. This is something that bothered me and continues to increase my dislike towards him. Her feelings are so strong, and her sense of freedom is incredible that it allows me, as a reader, assume that her marriage is not the best, meaning that her husband was not making her happy. I would blame her husband for her unhappiness because she states that she is free.

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The Story of an Hour

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