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In "The Story of an Hour" the character of Mrs. Mallard is definitely depicted as a victim of the Victorian attitudes toward marriage. We know this when, right after she receives the news of the death of her husband, the curious but definite reaction of Mrs. Mallard was to feel "free", "free", "free". During this moment,
The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.
For someone who admittedly has a good husband whom she had "sometimes loved", feeling "free" upon his death is quite a shocking emotion to have, especially when there is no evidence of mistreatment, abuse, or even financial struggle in the marriage. Hence, the only reason why she must have felt free now is because she felt like a prisoner in her own marriage before. If she feels like this in a marriage which is otherwise good, the conclusion is that she entered the state of marriage either against her will, or because society expected her to marry; Victorians were staunch in their belief that the proper position for women in society is becoming wives and mothers. Therefore, Mrs. Mallard is indeed a victim of the Victorian expectations placed upon women: she has to forfeit her own wants, needs, dreams and hopes in order to "obey the rules" and become wife to a man she hardly loves.
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