The Story of an Hour

Louise Mallard Character Analysis

A woman troubled by a heart condition who is told that her husband, Brently Mallard, has died in a train accident. Due to her heart problem, she is not supposed to become overly excited, but—unlike how other women of the time period might react—she responds to this bad news with intense, wild grief. However, as she is grieving alone in her room for her husband, with whom she had shared a good marriage, Louise soon finds herself overjoyed at the prospect of the independence of widowhood, at the prospect of never again being dependent on a husband or in any way influenced, explicitly or implicitly, to do anything other than exactly what she wants to do. As she savors this newfound freedom she is flooded by joy, a joy that is snuffed out when she dies of a heart attack upon seeing her husband, who had in fact not been in the accident at all, walk through the front door. Her death suggests the actual impossibility of the sort of freedom she had briefly imagined.

Louise Mallard Quotes in The Story of an Hour

The The Story of an Hour quotes below are all either spoken by Louise Mallard or refer to Louise Mallard. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.

Related Characters: Louise Mallard
Related Symbols: The Window
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

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It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.

There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully.

Related Characters: Louise Mallard
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

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There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.

Related Characters: Louise Mallard
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

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What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!

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

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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:

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Louise Mallard Character Timeline in The Story of an Hour

The timeline below shows where the character Louise Mallard 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... (full context)
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...women of her 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
After her initial sobs of grief subside, Louise escapes into her bedroom and locks the door. She refuses to let Josephine or Richards... (full context)
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
Outside her window, Louise sees trees moving in the new spring wind, smells the scent of rain outside, and... (full context)
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
As Louise tries to stave off this vague approaching feeling, she becomes increasingly physically excited and agitated.... (full context)
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Now Louise’s heart pulses faster and her blood rushes through her body, but this only relaxes her... (full context)
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Louise realizes that she will no longer be subjected to the powerful rules and norms of... (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... (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... (full context)
Women in 19th-Century Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Independence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...of the tragedy. Calmly standing at the bottom of the stairs, he is shocked by Louise’s deafening scream and by Richards’s futile attempt to shield him from his wife’s view. When... (full context)