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Kate Chopin is an American writer known for her depiction of women and feminism in the nineteenth century. Chopin creates a view of the nineteenth century as a women through many of her works especially in "The Story of an Hour" and "The Storm." At that time, people were very restrictive about the perspective of women's place in the society. Women didn't have a voice of their own. They were brought up to believe that the goal of their life is to go into servitude for their husband. In the stories "The Story of an Hour," and "The Storm," Chopin has portrayed how the condition of the society affected women and their view about marriage and life. In the 19th century marriage was the goal of every woman's life, service to her husband and her children her duties, passionless submission were her assumed virtues, selflessness her daily practice, self-sacrifice her pleasure. Her happiness and sorrows are associated with his. When he is happy, she is happy and when he is sad, she is as well.
Being married, women lost their freedom and judgment ability it was their husband who decided for them. Living in a society where women are considered to be second class citizen and with their fixed role as a daughter, wife, and mother, they have very little power to make decisions about themselves or their homes. During these times men were dominant over women and this was normally an accepted frame of thought. Women were often a "slave" to their husband whom used them to fulfill their needs and desires. Often with her submission and love for him going unnoticed within her home and judged based on what society thought.
In "The story of an hour" Chopin talks about a woman's want of self-identity, freedom, and the confinement she experiences being in a marriage. In the story, the main character Louise Mallard suffers from a heart problem which may indicate the oppression and stress she is experiencing in her marriage. Essentially Louise does have love for her husband but, her heart is not in the marriage. Louise seems to view marriage as a confinement and a constant struggle of wills between husband and wife. The limitations that are imposed upon her being a wife are mundane and unsatisfactory. In the eyes of Louise the only end to the obligations of marriage and the only way she can follow her own desires is for her marriage to end. Hence the reaction when she hears the news of her husband's death, she is caught up in moments of rapturous delight at the prospect of liberty and free will during the remainder of her life "She saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely" (Chopin). There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination. (14) The climax of "The Story of an Hour" is when Mrs. Mallard begins to feel joyful over her renewed life. Since her husband is no longer alive, she can be set free and start over, which is symbolized by the spring time. This is the climax, because it leads to what happens to her, which is death.
Through the use of visualization such as the call of sparrows, the signs of the onset of spring, imagery of patches of blue sky through clouds, and the smell of coming rain to Chopin shows Louise's awareness about the true nature of her freedom. Her life will no longer be just about her marital duties. Lousie can now follow her dreams to live her life as she wishes and create her own identity. The prime objective of Chopin is to show how marriage acted as a boundary between women and their desires. Also to show how ultimately duties and responsibilities that society wanted them to perform as a wife, suppress desire for self-identity and selfulfillment .
A comparison can be drawn between "The Story of an Hour" and Chopin's "The Storm" as this work by Chopin also addresses the issue of love and the true desires of the women in the nineteenth century. It presents the sexual standards and restraints of the nineteenth century society. In this story, the storm is used metaphorically to represent Calixta's sexuality and passion which is currently being suppressed by the restrictions of her marriage. Calixta is described as a young and passionate woman; "she had lost nothing of her veracity. Her blue eyes still retained their melting quality" who is constantly occupied by her household work which makes her ignore the passion that she smolders within.
While her husband and son remain at a general store and wait for the storm to pass, Calixta ends up having affair with an old boyfriend, Alcee. Chopin uses the imagery descriptions of the storm to show the sexual tension burning between Alcee and Calixta. The unsettling nature of the storm and the description of the lightning shows the mixture of emotions Calixta feels as she commits infidelity. Although Calixta is consumed with the fear of the social restrictions that do not allow her to do so; her body is excited at the freedom she is experiencing. A part of Calixta indulges in the depths of her own thoughts of freedom much as Louise did in "The Story Of The Hour". The storm is used in a ironic way in this story. The encounter between Calixta and Alcee comes as a storm which destroys all the frustrations they had in their marriage and revives their life with joy and excitement. The resulting affair ironically ends in a renewed interest in their marriage afterwards. The concluding line of this work Chopin writes, "So the storm passed and everyone was happy" (Chopin). Chopin expresses that the guidelines imposed by the society at that time on women made them ignore their own nature and that with more liberties women would be happier.
In conclusion, Chopin represents the different aspects of women in the above mentioned two stories both of which are similar as they both the condition of women and their true wants and desires which were usually suppressed in those times. Both of these works by Chopin not only address the situation of women but also expresses her own thoughts about marriage and life. And the control of the women that the men in their lives have on them. And the only way out was death and adultery by the two women. When women is control by men's in their lives have less confidence in themselves. So it make you wonder if their female child will have the same feeling about themselves or will they be stronger and take control of their lives from watch their mother go through their situation with mens.
Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." Taylor 101-03. Print.
Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." An Introduction to Literature: Fiction,
Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, William Burto, and William E.
Cain. 13th ed. New York: Longman, 2004. 23-24.