Why does Mrs. Mallard feels victorious? What does her sense of victory tell about her marriage in the story time period?
Mrs. Mallard's feeling of victory comes from her moment of apparent self definition. When she learns of her husband's death, Louise feels bad, as per obligatory custom of any wife. She follows social conventions in mourning her husband. Yet, there is a sense of victory that emerges when she begins to understand that the absence of her husband might allow her to engage in a process of self definition and greater autonomy. The social convention of marriage where a man would assume the freedom for both man and wife, a custom where a man would order for the woman when both are dining out, is replaced with Louise being able to speak for herself and articulate her own condition. This feeling of self- definition helps to give her a victory, a sense of presence in the absence of the other.
In the short story "The Story of an Hour" Mrs. Mallard learns that her husband has died. Instead of feeling sorrowful that he is gone, she begins to be happy. She thinks of the things that she will be able to do. She will get out of the house and go places and no one will stop her.
When her husband returns, she is shocked and dies. The people think she died from the shock of excitement at seeing him which is the case, but it also from the horror that her hope for a different life are over as well.
Mrs. Mallard lived during a time when women were objects owned by men with no real choices for themselves. If their husband was affluent they were expected to behave almost sickly and remain doing exactly what the doctor and her husband told them to do. Mrs. Mallard is stifled by the Victorian expectations of women and sees her one chance at freedom, her husband's death.