The climax of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” is Mrs. Mallard’s realization that she is free to be her own woman. Having just received news of her husband’s death, she spends an hour in contemplation of the possible, not grieving as one would expect. Known to have heart trouble, however, Mrs. Mallard dies suddenly when her husband, clearly still alive, lets himself in the front door.
In most ways “The Story of an Hour” is about the strength of the spirit. Even though Mrs. Mallard is not healthy and has received devastating news, she has enough strength of spirit to explore unrealized potential in her life. Her mood lifts as sparrows sing and a spring shower freshens the air. At a time when a widow, if allowed at all to inherit in her own right, could not expect to stay single much beyond a decent period of mourning, Mrs. Mallard has the opportunity to use both her own position and her own money to live. Mrs. Mallard’s “heart trouble” refers to more than just poor physical health, as she feels constrained by her husband’s “powerful will” imposing on her with “blind persistence” because he has the right to “impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” She loves her husband well enough to mourn him, but her new freedom is more important.