al irony here is that a young married couple expected to be in love with each other and aware of each others’ emotional needs, and to all appearances are well-matched, are actually not so, especially from the woman’s point of view. The protagonist Louise Mallard who, according to conventional expectations should be grieving her husband’s reported sudden death, instead rejoices in her freedom, but only when she begins to comprehend the implications after a short spell of crying and ostensible sorrow. The situation is reversed when her husband Brently Mallard walks in as if nothing had happened. He had not even heard of the railroad disaster in which he was assumed to have been killed.
Since the story opens with a statement that ‘Mrs Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble’ it is logically acceptable that she dies in the end of ‘heart disease’ on seeing her husband’s unexpected return. However, the dramatic irony is when the doctors conclude that she died of joy at seeing her husband, when the reader knows that it is more likely to be the opposite. She is denied the freedom she enjoyed momentarily, when she believed that she was to be free of her domestic duties and responsibilities to a husband who expected her subservience implicitly.
The story also has instances of verbal irony. Even the very first sentence partly quoted in the above paragraph contains the indefinite article ‘a’ before heart trouble. It is a vague, unexplained form of heart ‘disease’ (the word disease is only used at the end of the story) which could be an emotional, or psychosomatic reaction to Mrs Millard’s day to day life ‘under the thumb’ of her husband. One must remember the story was written in the 19th century, well before the feminist movement and a substantial degree of equality achieved over the subsequent years by women. Another instance of verbal irony is when she ‘breathed a quick prayer that life might be long’. She repeats ‘with a shudder