Josephine is Mrs. Mallard’s sister. It is Josephine who tells Mrs. Mallard of her husband’s death and who implores Louise to let her into the room after she has shut herself inside. Josephine, a woman who embodies the feminine ideal, assumes that Louise is suffering terribly from the news, not knowing that her sister is actually overjoyed with the prospect of being a widow.
See Mrs. Mallard
Brently Mallard, Mrs. Mallard’s husband, is assumed dead after a railroad disaster. When he reappears at the front door, the shock causes Mrs. Mallard’s death.
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.
Short Stories for Students, Volume 2, Kate Chopin, Edited by Kathleen Wilson, Published by Gale Research, New York, 1997.