Throughout history the roles of women has changed dramatically. Women have been enslaved, put down and their rights taken away from them. Women have slowly but surly evolved into the individuals ones sees today in public office, law firms or even the five o? clock news.
However this evolution did not occur over night, it took time and can be made apparent in places one might not think to look. The roles of women in short stories have changed from a typical voiceless human being to one that dominates a story. In the short story ?The Story of an Hour? by Kate Chopin, the character Mrs. Mallard demonstrates a transformation that is necessary for a woman to have.
The character Mrs. Mallard defies the traditional role of women in the 1800?s. In the beginning of the short story Mrs. Mallard is depicted as a weak and fragile woman who suffered from heart trouble. When the news of Mrs. Mallard?s husband?s death was made apparent, Richards, a family friend and Mrs. Mallard?s sister were very delicate in the way they broke the news to her. Once the news was broken to her, it seemed as if Mrs. Mallard would act to her husband?s death in the traditional way ? she wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sisters arm? . However, Ms. Mallard defies the traditional role of the women by overcoming the feeling of sadness and instead replacing it with the feeling of joy. Mrs. Mallard realizes that her husband?s death should not be seen as an atrocity but instead as an act of freedom. This is made apparent by the words Mrs. Mallard uttered to herself in the room; she gradually lets the words ?free, free, free!? escape from! her mouth. This act relinquishes Mrs. Mallard from the subservient role she played for her husband and into her own person. To some Mrs. Mallards reaction to her husband?s death may have seemed distasteful but to others it is seen as a step in the right direction. Mrs. Mallard is not joyful about her husband?s death but joyful about the newborn freedom she receives with the news. This is shown by her thoughts later on ?she knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death? .
However in the same paragraph her husband?s feelings about her are made obvious with the line the face [Mr. Mallard?s] that had never looked save with love upon her?. One can assume that Mr. Mallard never really expressed his love towards his wife that left her with these feelings inside. Mrs. Mallard?s reaction is just a woman freeing herself of the oppression her husband has placed on her. Through the course of the story, Mrs. Mallard developed from a weak individual to someone who just gaining a sense of self. Mrs. Mallard started looking into the future, a future that she would live for herself ?She saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And then she opened and spread out her arms out to them in welcome? . Mrs. Mallard turned from powerless to someone who had absolute power in all of about 10 minutes. The character of Mrs. Mallard exhibits the conscious and subconscious feeling that women hold towards men. The reaction Mrs. Mallard has to her husband?s death should not be viewed upon as appalling or viscous but as liberating. Mrs. Mallards feeling that ?there would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself? is the feeling women should have while there husband are alive, women should not have to wait for a man to die in order t gain some sense of independence .
When Mrs. Mallard discovers that her husband is indeed alive, she dies of heart disease. The doctor diagnosed her death as ?a joy that kills?, however one can assume her death was provoked by the realization that her newfound freedom was suddenly gone. In the short story ?The Story of an Hour?, the main character Mrs. Mallard, develops into her own person in a short matter of time. The death of her husband made her realize that she was living life for the wrong person; instead of living it for herself she was living it for her husband. Throughout the story Mrs. Mallard transcends from Mrs. Mallard to Josephine, her name. With the surprising sight of her husband came the realization that she was about to transform from Josephine back to Mrs. Mallard. ()