The story of an hour

In the beginning of the story Mrs. Mallard is known simply by her married name. A wife who suffers from "heart trouble," she is described as "young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength." When Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband's death, she becomes "Louise," a woman aware of her own desires, enjoying the prospect of being freed from the confines of marriage. Louise dies of a "joy that kills" when her husband reappears. Her character represents feminine individuality; she is a strong-willed, independent woman excited by the prospect of beginning her life again after the reported demise of her husband.

Martha Hale is the only character visible for the entire story. The narrator follows her from her own kitchen to Wright's kitchen. While waiting for the detective to investigate the premises, she conducts her own examination of the scene. Rather than search Minnie Wright's home with the critical eye of the law, Mrs. Hale observes it with the sympathetic eye of a farm wife. As an acquaintance of Minnie's for over twenty years, she provides the reader with background on what Minnie was like before and after marriage. She represents loyalty and female solidarity by concealing evidence that would implicate Minnie in the death of her husband.

The Dr's Wife has just recently had a baby. She suffers from depression, or "nervous prostration," and is confined to a room that used to be a nursery, as a "bed-rest" cure, in a country house that she and her husband are renting for a holiday. While John does not allow her to read, write, or engage in any other type of mental stimulation, she does secretly write in a journal. The story itself is a transcription of these journal entries. Bored and restless, the narrator is driven to distraction by the yellow wallpaper that decorates the room, eventually suffering a complete mental breakdown after imagining that she sees in the wallpaper's pattern women who are trying to escape. Because the narrator is completely dependent on her husband and is allowed no other role than to be a wife and mother, she represents the secondary status of women during the nineteenth century.

Starting as a beautiful young lady, Natalya and her friend Pyotr Sergeyitch do a lot of things together whenever he comes around. Pyotr ends up falling in love with Natalya, but with fear of being rejected he says "Natalya Vladimirovna," he said, "I would give anything only to stay here a little longer and look at you. You are lovely to-day." He looked at her with delight and supplication, and then he went on saying "I love you," he said. "I love you, and I am happy at seeing you. I know you cannot be my wife, but I want nothing, I ask nothing; only know that I love you. Be silent, do not answer me, take no notice of it, but only know that you are dear to me and let me look at you."

What he said affecter Natalya too, but she did not say anything because he told her to, and she was so touched she did not know what to say. Later on the story, years passed, Natalya's father was dead, and it was just her and the maid left at the house, she had not seen or heard of Pyotr in a long time, but suddenly one day the door bell rings. It is Pyotr, she was very happy to see him, but he did not look right "He looks a little older, a little fallen away. He has long given up declaring his love, has left off talking nonsense, dislikes his official work, is ill in some way and disillusioned; he has given up trying to get anything out of life, and takes no interest in living. Now he has sat down by the hearth and looks in silence at the fire. . . ." Natalya said. But they both still felt the same way about each other, they still loved each other, but it was awkward now, it was too late for her to tell him how she felt, and she knew he still felt the same way, when Natalya mentions, "When I saw him to the door, he was, I fancied, purposely a long while putting on his coat. Twice he kissed my hand without a word, and looked a long while into my tear-stained face. I believe at that moment he recalled the storm, the streaks of rain, our laughter, my face that day; he longed to say something to me, and he would have been glad to say it; but he said nothing, he merely shook his head and pressed my hand. God help him!"

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