You might reasonably guess, if you were told that a woman became deliriously excited soon after her husband’s sudden death, that the marriage was not a very good one. However, “The Story of an Hour” makes it clear that Louise and Brently’s marriage was perfectly loving or, at the very least, normal. After all, Louise’s initial reaction to her husband’s death is completely authentic and powerful: she goes alone to her room not to plot her path to freedom but because, in her grief, she can’t bear to be with anyone else. And even as she begins to recognize the freedom that Brently’s death promises, she thinks of his “face that had never looked save with love upon her” and knows that she will weep with sadness when she looks upon his “kind, tender hands folded in death.
The basic goodness of Louise and Brently’s marriage is crucial because it means that Louise’s joy at her newfound freedom isn’t a critique of her marriage to Brently, but rather a critique of the entire institution of marriage. In her “moment of illumination,” she describes marriage as centered around “that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” Louise believes love and marriage restrict freedom and that, as such, they are institutions in which the benefit does not equal the cost.
Love and Marriage ThemeTracker
Love and Marriage Quotes in The Story of an Hour
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.
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!
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.