Describing Louise's gaze, Chopin writes, "It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought." If she had been thinking intelligently, social norms might have prevented her from such a heretical recognition.
Instead, the world offers her "veiled hints" that she slowly pieces together without even realizing she is doing so.
She loved her husband, more or less, but love is nothing to her when compared to independence, she decides, as she murmurs, "Free! Mallard is actually imagining the happiness of the years ahead.
In fact, only the day before she had feared living a long life.
The Kate Chopin International Society is kind enough to provide a free, accurate version.
At the beginning of the story, Richards and Josephine believe they must break the news of Brently Mallard's death to Louise Mallard as gently as possible.
He is "a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella." His mundane appearance contrasts greatly with Louise's "feverish triumph" and her walking down the stairs like a "goddess of Victory." When the doctors determine that Louise "died of heart disease -- of joy that kills," the reader immediately recognizes the irony.
It seems clear that her shock was not joy over her husband's survival, but rather distress over losing her cherished, newfound freedom.
Richards moves in front of him to hide him from seeing his wife when she cries out.
By the time the doctors arrive, she has died from "heart disease," purportedly from "the joy that kills."Chopin tackles complex issues involved in the interplay of female independence, love, and marriage through her brief but effective characterization of the supposedly widowed Louise Mallard in her last hour of life.