The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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Why does Mrs. Mallard really die in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"?

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Stephen Holliday eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As your question suggests, the cause of Louise Mallard's death in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is forever debatable, but there are details in the narrative that can lead us to infer a cause. We know, for example, that

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.

The death of her husband, Brently Mallard, as one would expect, is a shocking event, and Mrs. Mallard's sister uses "veiled hints that revealed in half concealing" in order to disclose his death and to preserve Mrs. Mallard's equilibrium to the extent possible. At this point, we have no reason to think that Mrs. Mallard is anything other than a conventional middle-class woman in the late nineteenth century. We expect the news of the death of her husband to be the devastating news that it appears to be.

The first sign that Mrs. Mallard may be slightly unusual is in her first response to the news:

She did not hear the...

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