“The Story of an Hour” projects that all self-pride is forbidden once entering a, what Kate Chopin might imply as a “mutual contract”, since marriage was never out of love, yet out of wealth, power and the hope to gain as high of a position as possible. Mrs. Mallard, an unhappily married woman, must hide her acknowledgement of her self-worth, independence, and longing to be a free spirit because she is trapped in the never-ending web of being subordinate to her husband, Mr. Mallard, and always living under his thumb. You would subject yourself to somebody else with no feeling of passion whatsoever, but unfortunately, back in 1894, this fair woman had no choice.
Mrs. Mallard is an independent woman at heart, no doubt about that in her mind, but to everybody else, she is considered a hysterical, fragile and troubled soul. “…she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory.” (18)This exhibits that deep down, she is all for herself, although never selfishly, and is already looking upon the next few steps In her newly created stairway, that will soon lead to her yearning success. She carries herself as the proud and graceful woman she perceives herself as.
Mrs. Mallard’s gracefulness is quite simple, yet highly crucial to understand. This is her language, her way of action. Unlike most women in that time period, Mrs. Mallard does not weep in hysteria at the notice that her husband has passed, yet she weeps of joy, overwhelming joy, that is. Unlike other women, she knows her place in this world, and she knows she was born to be somebody, not to stay at home and bear children to her husband who is never home to even remember their names. Her being graceful about this situation lets the reader know that she is not terrified and quick to settle down again, but she is embracing the fact that she is a free woman and can do as she pleases. “She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will…“ (10) Mrs. Mallard is jubilant, yet quiet, quiet to hide her true emotion; to hide her true emotion for something that she’s been longing for the longest time, if not forever.
Mrs. Mallard has been longing for something she was only a teardrop away from, freedom. She longs to be an individual, to live under her own name, be her own person. Mrs. Mallard is unfortunately unhappily married, which only allows her this miserable longing feeling to dwell in the back of her mind as she lives on everyday wishing her life was not long. “Free! Body and soul free! She kept whispering.” Imagine being hit in the gut, with the one thing you crave most, at once, with lightning speed, forced to take it all in and deal with it who knows how! Mrs. Mallard was shockingly overwhelmed, longing for so long she finally received the best gift she could ever accept, freedom. She immediately imagines every success just waiting for her to grab a firm grip of it, and real it in. Every opportunity waiting around the corner. Every new lesson, all the new things she can do and learn. Decisions, choices.
Now being said that Mrs. Mallard is independent, longing, and graceful, imagine her as a total opposite person. Can you see her being subordinate, sorry, and uncaring? If she had been subordinate, she would have under minded herself, and married right away her husband died. To be subordinate, you can’t show true emotion, and that’s exactly how women back in 1894 were expected…