As the story establishes in its very first sentence, Louise Mallard has heart problems. Those heart problems are what ultimately result in her death, in the wake of the strong emotional swings she experiences over the course of the story.
As this story begins, Louise is told that her husband has died. Note, however, the sheer intensity of the emotions she displays across the course of the story. When she is first given the news, Chopin writes that Louise "wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment," even describing that initial reaction as "a storm of grief." However, that initial grief proceeds to give way to a profound exhilaration, arising from the sense of agency that widowhood provides her. Up to this point, Louise has lived under her husband's domination.
However, this sense of joy and exhilaration carries a dangerous side, given Louise's poor health, and this powerful release of emotions has an effect on her body as well. Thus, Chopin writes, "her pulses beat fast, and the...
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