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The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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Did Mrs. Mallard fantasize about escape during her marriage in "The Story of an Hour"?

Quick answer:

In "The Story of an Hour," Mrs. Mallard probably did not fantasize about escape during her marriage, as the feeling of freedom that she experiences after she hears her husband has died is described as an "illumination" that happens suddenly. Otherwise, the sensation of being free would not have come upon her so dramatically, like a revelation.

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To determine whether Mrs. Mallard fantasized about escape during her marriage in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, it is necessary to follow her thought processes after she hears about her husband's death. Her husband's friend Richards hears about Brently Mallard's death in a train wreck, and he rushes over to the house to convey the news. Louise Mallard's sister Josephine gives her the news.

Louise's first reaction is to weep "with sudden, wild abandonment," and then she goes to her room alone. She sits by an open window and experiences the sights, sounds, and smells of a lovely fresh spring day. She is physically exhausted from her grief, and she occasionally sobs.

Chopin then writes that "there was something coming to her." Louise doesn't know what it is; it is "too subtle and elusive to name." She slowly realizes that she is free from the grip of her husband. She recalls that she loved her husband sometimes, and sometimes she didn't, but he had a "powerful will" that he imposed upon her, and now that he is dead it is no longer there. She sees all this in a "brief moment of illumination." Her imagination begins "running riot" as she considers all the days she will spend happily alone in her newfound freedom.

Because of the way the author describes Louise's realization of her sudden freedom as a "moment of illumination" and her imagination goes wild in happiness, we come to the conclusion that she probably did not fantasize about escape during her marriage to Mr. Mallard. She was so deeply imprisoned in the customs of the times, in which women were perceived as inferior and men were justified in dominating them, that it did not even occur to her to contemplate the freedom she would enjoy if she were alone. Circumstances did not allow those thoughts to arise until suddenly the situation seemingly changed.

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