"The Story of an Hour" was published in 1894 and is an example of a work of feminist literature. The story has a twist. Upon hearing of her husband's alleged death, Louise Mallard is grief-stricken, as would be expected. However, when the initial grief passes, she begins to be overcome with a feeling of epiphany: freedom. "When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: 'free, free, free!"
This is not to say that she didn't lover her husband or that her grieving was over. This was simply a moment when she realized she could live for herself. She would not have to be bound to the subservient role in this marriage (remember this is the late 19th century). Upon discovering that her husband is in fact alive, she then dies of the "joy that kills." She is happy that he is alive but devastated that her new found freedom is gone again. This begs the question of what killed her: the shock of seeing her allegedly dead husband or the shock of losing that wonderful freedom. One universal theme in this story is that, certainly in the past and to some extent still today, women have had to struggle for equality. Even in a loving marriage, such as the Mallard's, the wife can feel trapped, almost like a prisoner - not necessarily trapped by the husband but trapped by the traditional role she is supposed to play.
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