Mrs. Louise Mallard is a sickly woman. Her heart is extremely weak. So when her husband is presumably killed in a violent train accident, her sister, Josephine, and her husband’s friend try to break the sad news to her gently, as to not cause her heart to fail. Predictably, Louise reacts to the news with tears. She flees upstairs, locking herself in her room.
The tears subside, and Louise begins to look at all of the beauty in the outside world. She suddenly realizes that she is free. With her husband dead, she admits to herself that she will be happy; although she loved him at times, there were time when she did not, which made her very depressed. Now with him gone, she could go out into the world and be “free, free, free!”
Josephine, fearing for Louise’s health, begs her to come out of the room. Finally, she does. While descending the stairs, she is greeted by her husband opening the door, disheveled, but alive and well. Louise screams and collapses of a heart attack. The doctor claims that she was so overjoyed to discover her husband still alive, but the reader is acutely aware that she, in fact, has died because she was so acutely disappointed by the loss of her newly found freedom.