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In 1894, Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" appeared in Vogue. It describes Louise Mallard's response to hearing that her husband, Brently, allegedly perished in a train accident. Louise Mallard has a heart condition. Louise is initially overcome with grief, but she soon learns that Brently's passing frees her from the obligations of a traditional marriage, and she suddenly feels hopeful about the future. However, in a cruel turn of events, it is discovered that Brently is still alive, and Louise perishes from shock at seeing him.

The women's suffrage campaign began to gain ground in 1890, but conventional Victorian social mores continued to uphold the notion that the ideal woman was a selfless wife and mother. In defiance of tradition, Chopin's tale depicts Louise's emancipation from Brently's death, implying that the Victorian form of marriage is an oppressive institution that stops women from achieving self-actualization. At the time the tale was written, this viewpoint was divisive, and "The Story of an Hour" was rejected by a number of publications, including The Century and Vogue. Chopin didn't agree to let Vogue publish the story until after he had achieved success with other writing projects. Despite the fact that it remained divisive for many years after its initial release, it has subsequently become one of Chopin's most well-known compositions.

Louise Mallard must be informed that Brently Mallard is believed to have perished in a train accident. People close to Louise are concerned about how the news of Brently's passing would affect her precarious health because she has a heart issue. Richards, a friend of Brently's who first learned of his passing through telegraph, and Josephine, Louise's sister, make an effort to deliver the news gently. Immediately after starting to cry, Louise runs into her sister's arms.

When "the storm of anguish" has passed, Louise retires to her room and requests privacy. She is fatigued as she sits on a window-facing recliner. She hears echoes of someone singing outdoors and realizes that the trees are blooming with new life.

Louise is characterized as being youthful, fair, and having a "certain strength" in her face. But while she sits and looks out the window, her thoughts are absolutely empty. She is anticipating something, but she is unsure of what. She gradually understands that her husband's passing has liberated her. While initially frightened by the thought of celebrating her husband's passing, Louise makes an effort to deny this enlightenment before eventually succumbing to a "monstrous ecstasy" at the possibility of being allowed to live for herself.

Although Louise acknowledges that her husband loved her and treated her with the utmost kindness, their love was sporadic rather than ongoing. Louise also acknowledges that being in "possession of self-assertion" is far more pleasant than experiencing the "wonder" of love, and she bemoans the brutality, whether unintentional or not, of someone trying to impose their will on another. She is aware that she will mourn at Brently's funeral, but she can't help but suddenly appreciate the thought of a future free from other people's expectations

Josephine begs Louise to unlock the door, worried for her wellbeing and security. Louise, who is excited at the idea of her newfound independence, tells her to leave. She now anticipates living a long life.

Louise eventually leaves the room at her sister's command, emerges with a triumphant expression on her face, and follows Josephine down the stairs. However, as they descend, Brently Mallard makes it home safely, completely oblivious of his purported death and having been far from the accident site. Richards tries to block Louise from seeing him, but it's too late. Louise passes away instantly. The shock of seeing Brently alive is later attributed by the doctors to heart illness, who call it "the joy that kills." 

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