In "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, who is the supporting character?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, an argument can be made for Brently Mallard as the supporting character of Chopin's "The Story of an Hour." Supporting characters usually interplay with the protagonist and they help to advance the plot; Mr. Mallard does both.

  • Interplay with the protagonist 

While the mention of Mr. Brently Mallard in the exposition of the story is but a name on the accidental death roll from a railroad disaster, as her husband, Mallard has had a tremendous effect upon the person of his wife. For, he is the husband in a patriarchal society. With the femme covert laws of the Victorian Age, Mr. Mallard has complete control of his wife, and of her property. Thus, after learning of his having been "killed," Mrs. Mallard feels as though she has been set free.Although she has loved her husband, his death launches her into a new phase of life, "an illumination":

And yet she had loved him--sometimes....What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of sel-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being.

  • Help in advancing the plot

Mrs. Mallard is thus propelled into freedom because of the loss of Brently Mallard, and the plot is advanced with her introspections and and empowerment afforded her as a widow; for, now "her fancy was running riot" and "all sorts of days ...would be her own."

Then, just as her heart fills with her new life, her new-found freedom, Brently Mallard returns, opening the front door with his latchkey. His return is the nemesis of the newly-freed Mrs. Mallard, as this new "goddess of Victory" dies of heart disease--"of joy that kills."

Clearly, the non-presence and presence of Brently Mallard affect Mrs. Mallard deeply, making him a supporting character.

carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin recognizes the protagonist as Louise Mallard who is told by a family friend, Richards that her husband has been killed in an accident.  Louise feels grief for the loss of her husband; then, she goes to her room to rest.

There are three other characters that briefly enter the story: her sister, Josephine; her husband’s friend, Richards; and her husband, who was not dead. 

As Louise finds herself ecstatic that she is now free and able to do the things that she wants to do without someone nagging at her, her sister is standing in the hall worried that Louise should not be alone. It was Josephine that comforted Louise when she learned of Brently’s death.

She wept at once, with sudden wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms.  When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone, She would have no one follow her.

After a time in her room and whispering to herself “Free! Body and soul free!” her sister had her lips pressed against the keyhole of Louise’s bedroom door: Louise opens the door! I beg: open the door—you will make yourself ill. Louise does not want this moment of new liberty to end.  Through the window, Louise could see the newness of Spring and the possibilities for the future. 

Finally, she agreed to come out.  She puts her arm around Josephine and descends down the stairs.  Suddenly, Brently, her husband, walks in the door.  His death was incorrectly reported.. . Josephine

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The Story of an Hour

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