The Story of an Hour

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Josephine Character Analysis

The sister of Louise Mallard. Aware of Louise’s heart troubles, she breaks the news of Brently’s death to Louise using a calm demeanor. She actively worries about her sister’s health and tries to protect her from herself. Wheareas Louise is a women who, in her moment of grief, sees how society entraps and controls women, Josephine is more traditional and shows no such insight. In fact, her character seems to show how both men and women of society control and entrap other women.

Josephine Quotes in The Story of an Hour

The The Story of an Hour quotes below are all either spoken by Josephine or refer to Josephine. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet edition of The Story of an Hour published in 1976.
“The Story of an Hour” Quotes

She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms.

Related Characters: Louise Mallard, Josephine
Related Symbols: Louise’s Weak Heart
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

Louise has just been told that her husband, Brently Mallard, died in a train accident. The “wild abandonment” she displays challenges her weak heart and defies the limitations and expectations that her body and social context have placedupon her. Indeed, if other nineteenth-century women would respond to similar news with passive denial rather than with the passion Louise shows, then Louise is, perhaps, different from the average woman of her day. She seems to be somebody who, rather than refusing to accept tragedy, is willing to confront difficulty and hardship, even if this means straying from the societal norm and possibly risking her physical wellbeing.

On the other hand, though, this reaction doesn’t exactly mark Louise as someone more in touch with her true emotions than others. As the story reveals, Louise’s initial wild grief is at odds with her deeper reaction to her husband’s death: her joy at her newfound freedom. In this way, Louise’s ability to accept the truth of her husband’s death faster than “many women” who would have been in denial points to the fact that her reaction is not what it initially appears. While other women might have a numb reaction to the news that precedes grief, Louise has a grief reaction that precedes joy. This suggests a similarity between Louise and other women, in that each of their reactions to tragedy involves initial emotions that do not reflect their deeper feelings.

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She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs.

Related Characters: Louise Mallard, Josephine
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:

Finally acquiescing to her sister’s plea that she come out of the locked bedroomso that she won’t make herself ill, Louise confidently stands and leaves the room—her victorious demeanor seems to defy the very premise of her needing to leave the room to avoid illness. Thatthe word “importunities” carries with it connotations of annoyance and intrusion underscores the sense that Josephine’s assumption of Louise’s weakness is at odds with reality;Chopin is revealing her allegiance to Louise and her fondness for the character’s newfound feminine confidence. However,Louise is once again portrayed as physically excited to the point of possible agitation, as evidenced by the word “feverish.” Hernewfound emotional strength and her confident demeanor are, once again, at odds with her supposedly weak heart, but in this moment it is not clear whether this puts her in danger or if it is proof that she has, until now, been overprotected and sheltered by the meddlesome and intrusive people around her.

It is significant, too, that Louise joins her sister in the hall, as this is the first time since her personal liberation that she has been in the company of others. As she “unwittingly” carries herself like a “goddess of Victory,” Louise finds herself able to disregard the expectations and limitations placed upon her by her immediate peers.

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Josephine Character Timeline in The Story of an Hour

The timeline below shows where the character Josephine appears in The Story of an Hour. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“The Story of an Hour”
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Louise Mallard has a weak heart. Her sister Josephine, who is worried that bad news will overwhelm Louise and worsen her condition, tells her... (full context)
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...time period, who become paralyzed by denial when confronted by bad news, Louise weeps into Josephine’s arms with wild abandon. (full context)
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
...grief subside, Louise escapes into her bedroom and locks the door. She refuses to let Josephine or Richards follow her. Alone, she falls into a chair placed before an open window.... (full context)
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
Meanwhile, worried that Louise will make herself sick by staying alone in her bedroom, Josephine kneels outside the room and begs her sister through the keyhole to open the door.... (full context)
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
Eventually Louise rises from her chair and opens the door, just as Josephine begs her to. Louise’s eyes are alight with triumph, and without realizing it she carries... (full context)