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Kate Chopin, Term Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1450

Term Paper

Having spent much time studying “Storm” and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, I have realized that these texts incorporate various themes that directly point out certain characteristics of the time period, when the short stories were created. Kate Chopin had a great influence on the content of the pieces being a representative of the female part of the society she lived in. As a result, both works emphasize the diminished role of women of the era, the effect of patriarchal rule of the society, and the miserable life conditions of married females. The plot of the stories is built to straightforwardly inform the reader of the women’s desire for freedom, independence, affection, love, and compassion. In my work, I would like to analyze the two works by Kate Chopin and find out how the main topics of the stories correlate to the actual problems of the society that lived in the set time period.

“The Storm” by Kate Chopin serves as a gold mine for any reader, who tries to prove the sexist trends of the society in the 19th century. The subjects discussed in the narrative are important issues that were bothering the minds of the people, who lived at that time. In fact, the essence of this particular piece is feminine nature. Kate Chopin, being a representative of the feminine group herself, portrays the main character of the story, Calixta, to be caught and bounded by the culture of the society, where women had secondary roles only. In other words, the author is projecting the sex issue in the story, trying to illustrate the discrimination of women in 19th century. In fact, women were completely attached to their husbands and had no other alternative but to abide the male authority. Women rarely worked, as far as the society did not provide any suitable job opportunities or simply underpaid them. Consequently, females spent most of their time at home, doing house work and taking care of the children. One can only imagine how psychologically difficult it was for the women to remain happy and satisfied with their miserable lives at that time period.

Calixta, being pressed by the mentioned prejudices, allows herself to commit adultery, which is a common example of breaking the moral rules of the society. It seems that the writer does not blame her for the act, but rather sympathizes and is even glad that the woman had, at least momentarily, experienced true passion, love, and freedom. “She was a little fuller of figure than five years before when she married; but she had lost nothing of her vivacity. Her blue eyes still retained their melting quality; and her yellow hair, disheveled by the wind and rain, kinked more stubbornly than ever about her ears and temples” (Chopin 41). It seems that Calixta’s feelings were reviving with the speed of a storm, getting more and more intense with every minute. Did she know what she was doing when letting her ex- lover inside the house? Most likely, she did it purposely, desiring for love and passion, which she missed for five long years.

Hypocrisy and fakeness of people’s emotions can be vividly observed in “Storm”. At first, we see how formal and irrelevant their dialogue is, but we realize that this is merely a hypocritical stage, imposed by the society, which they both passed quickly, in order to find pleasure in each other’s arms. The author clearly lets the readers realize how purposeless and shallow the lives of Calixta and Alcee were. The society never let them show their true potential and reveal their emotions. “The generous abundance of her passion, without guile or trickery, was like a white flame which penetrated and found response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached” (Chopin 42). The passion that was hidden inside their hearts and souls was finally let out. They have at last taken off their masks and disclosed their true personalities. The effect of the cleansing, reviving, desolate storm is compared to the passion between a man and woman, who were bounded by the artificial chains of the culture, but were temporarily set free by the nature. The author is implying that human beings are supposed to be acting in a natural way, doing whatever their heart tells them to do, rather than subjecting their actions and feelings to rules and limitations, set by the society. However, the sad and miserable reality comes back, when the storm is over. Alcee leaves and Calixta is destined to put on a mask of a wife again. “So the storm passed and everyone was happy” (Chopin 43).

“The Story of an Hour”, also written by Kate Chopin, refers to the very same issue as the previous story, revealing the trends of discrimination in the discussed culture. The image of a woman trapped by the marital status and the cultural definitions of a female is meant to restrict the protagonist of the narrative to lead a happy and enjoyable life. From the story we realize that Mrs. Mallard apparently married her husband for money and status, as far as she does not really love him. It was common for the time period to have financially based marriages, as far as a woman was subjected to lead a miserable life otherwise.

Again, the hypocrisy of her tears and sadness clearly states that the society of the era never let true identities and personal characteristics to be shown in public. However, when she finds herself alone in her room, she is able to identify herself as a free human being, an independent woman with an interesting and content life ahead of her. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves” (Chopin 23). The reader understands that before the death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard was not able to function according to her own will, but, due to Mr. Mallard’s death, she could now live the rest of her life according to her own preference and desire only. There will be no one to command, no one to reprimand, and no one to press on her. She would now have privacy.

In a certain sense, Calixta is given a second birth. There is sound evidence that the death of a husband was the only way for a female to leave the slavery of a marriage behind. She starts to acknowledge the beauty of nature – something she never appreciated before. During the described era, most women were unhappy to have been born female. For most of them, the life that they lived was a disgusting obedience to male strength and power. Mrs. Mallard received a chance to live her life as she pleased. “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 24). The end of the story creates a feeling of uncertainly of Mrs. Mallard’s death. According to the doctors, she dies of happiness. In my opinion, she died of sadness and inevitability of returning to her old lifestyle. For a few moments she was blessed to transform into her natural state of liveliness, happiness, and joy, when all of a sudden, all he dreams were destroyed. They were crashed and demolished by the merciless reality. Form the very beginning of the story we understand that she has serious problems with her health, which one may assume, were caused by the miserable emotional conditions she coped with. Her weak heart, unable to bear the burden of emotionless and careless life, gave up and finally brought peace and independence to her soul.

In my work, I have proven the presence of feministic thoughts in the two works by Kate Chopin. The issues acknowledged by the author clearly emphasize the problems of women living in the 19th century, when the men were dominating the society. The cultural issues mentioned in the short stories in question, refer to hypocritical and untrue nature of the society. The author’s outcry for women’s freedom, desire to make decisions of their own, appeal to the imperfection of the societal standards is vividly distinguished. The two works prove that a human being cannot fully develop emotionally under the constant press of prejudice and cultural judgment. Through the examples of Calixta and Louise, Kate Chopin demonstrates the misery and worthlessness of women’s life in the 19th century.

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