The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

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At a Glance

“The Story of an Hour” key characters:

  • In “The Story of an Hour,” Louise Mallard, a wife who has suppressed her desire for independence, begins to understand her need for self-discovery when she learns of her husband’s death.

  • Josephine, sister of Louise Mallard, models ideal female behavior and cares for her sister, carefully breaking the news of Mr. Mallard’s demise and offering comfort.

  • Brently Mallard, by all accounts a loving husband, is presumed dead in a train accident; the report, however, is mistaken, and he reappears at the story’s end, causing his wife’s fatal heart attack.

  • Mr. Richards is the family friend who brings the news of Mr. Mallard’s death and attempts to screen Louise from the shock of his reappearance.

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(Short Stories for Students)

Josephine is Mrs. Mallard's sister. It is Josephine who tells Mrs. Mallard of her husband's death and who implores Louise to let her into the room after she has shut herself inside. Josephine, a woman who embodies the feminine ideal, assumes that Louise is suffering terribly from the news, not knowing that her sister is actually overjoyed with the prospect of being a widow.

See Mrs. Mallard

Brently Mallard
Brently Mallard, Mrs. Mallard's husband, is assumed dead after a railroad disaster. When he reappears at the front door, the shock causes Mrs. Mallard's death.

Mrs. Mallard
In the beginning of the story Mrs. Mallard is known simply by her married name. A wife who suffers from "heart trouble," she is described as "young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength." When Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband's death, she becomes "Louise," a woman aware of her own desires, enjoying the prospect of being freed from the confines of marriage. Louise dies of a "joy that kills" when her husband reappears. Her character represents feminine individuality, she is a strong-willed, independent woman excited by the prospect of beginning her life again after the reported demise of her husband.