The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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Why does Chopin call her protagonist as "Mrs. Mallard" rather than by her first name?

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In the first sentence of the story, Louise is referred to as Mrs. Mallard:

Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.

Reading the sentence, we can see this opening line reflects the point of view of the women with Louise. They are the people thinking about the need to break the news gently to her.

To the other women, Louise is primarily defined by her marital status. She is Mrs. Mallard to them because it was customary in those times to think of a woman as an appendage of her spouse rather than as an individual in her own right.

It is only after Louise is alone by herself in a room that the point of view shifts to her own thoughts and feelings. Outside, in the space where her friends and neighbors are gathered, she is defined by her role as wife. However, when she is by herself she is gradually able to shed this role and begin to define herself as individual entity in her own right. As she realizes that she is free to be who she wants to be and no longer has to defer to her husband's wishes and needs, she begins to feel free and joyous. She is liberated—or so she thinks—to be Louise rather than Mrs. Mallard.

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