Are we suposed to sympathize with Mrs Mallard?
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Chopin presents Mrs. Mallard as a sympathetic character with strength and insight. As Louise understands the world, to lose her strongest familial tie is not a great loss so much as an opportunity to move beyond the "blind persistence" of the bondage of personal relationships. In particular, American wives in the late nineteenth century were legally bound to their husbands' power and status, but because widows did not bear the responsibility of finding or following a husband, they gained more legal recognition and often had more control over their lives. Although Chopin does not specifically cite the contemporary second-class situation of women in the text, Mrs. Mallard's exclamations of "Free! Body and soul free!" are highly suggestive of the historical context.