2 Sentence Summary
“The Story of an Hour” is a literary work by Kate Chopin that tells the tale of Louise Mallard, whose husband, Brently Mallard, is initially believed to have passed away. However, she later learns that he is still alive.
Summary Read Time: Less than 3 minutes
Actual Book Length: 32
First Published in: 1894
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book:
Mrs. Mallard has a heart condition, so care is taken to gently break the news of her husband’s death to her. The information is delivered to her by her sister Josephine and her husband’s friend Richards, who had learned of the tragedy from a newspaper. Mrs. Mallard immediately begins to weep and retreats to her room alone, refusing to allow anyone to accompany her.
Facing the open window was a spacious armchair, into which Louise collapsed due to overwhelming physical and emotional fatigue. She observed the trees outside, vibrantly alive with the new spring, and the air filled with the scent of rain. The sounds of a street vendor and a distant song drifted in, along with the chirping of sparrows.
The sky outside Louise’s window was partly cloudy, with glimpses of blue peeking through. She sat with her head reclined on the chair cushion, motionless except for the occasional sob that shook her body. Louise had a youthful appearance with a fair, composed face, but at this moment her eyes had a vacant stare, fixed on a patch of blue sky in the distance. It was as if her thoughts were suspended, rather than actively reflecting.
Louise was waiting anxiously for something undefined, but she could sense it approaching through the sounds, smells, and colors in the air. It was as if the sensation was emanating from the sky. Her chest rose and fell with turbulent emotion as she tried to resist this force with all her might, though she knew her effort was futile.
Louise whispered “free, free, free!” to herself as she surrendered to the feeling and her eyes lost their vacant, fearful expression, becoming keen and bright. Her heartbeat quickened and her body relaxed with the flowing of her blood. She didn’t pause to consider whether the emotion consuming her was appropriate, but rather, accepted it with clarity and insight.
She knew that she would cry again when faced with the sight of her husband’s lifeless body, but she also saw the many years ahead that would be solely hers to enjoy, and she eagerly embraced them.
During the years ahead, Louise would live for herself, unencumbered by the influence or expectations of others. She would not be subject to the will of another person, whether their intentions were kind or cruel. Despite having sometimes loved her husband, love seemed insignificant in the face of her newfound sense of self-determination. She repeatedly whispered to herself, “Free! Body and soul free!”
Josephine was kneeling at the door, pleading for Louise to open it and expressing concern for her well-being. Louise, however, was feeling invigorated by the open window and the prospect of the many days ahead that would be hers to experience. She briefly prayed for a long life, a thought that would have previously filled her with dread.
Louise opened the door to her sister and together, they went downstairs where Richards was waiting. Brently Mallard, who had been unaware of the accident, arrived home, carrying his luggage and umbrella. Josephine let out a loud cry and Richards tried to shield Brently from Louise’s view, but he was too late. The doctors later determined that Louise had died of heart disease caused by excessive joy.