Kate Chopin Coursework

Kate Chopin’s stories are essentially about the struggle of freedom

Kate Chopin was one of the most individual and adventurous nineteenth century American writers. Throughout Kate Chopin’s stories, she gave the readers a woman’s view of how repressive and confining marriage can be for a woman, both spiritually and sexually, through images of entrapment and freedom. From her stories, we not only learn how she illustrates that the nineteenth century was a difficult time for many women because of the domination of white men over them, but we also learn how her social life is reflected in her stories. Kate Chopin clearly develops the ideas of freedom and entrapment in her masterpieces, "The Storm,� “The Story of an hour,� “Lilacs� and “Desiree’s Baby.�

“The Storm,� by Kate Chopin, is a short story about two people who have an affair during a storm. The story involves two families: Bobinot, Calixta, and Bibi; Alcee, Clarisse, and their babies. Calixta is at her house separated from her family because of the storm. Alcee is separated from his family because they are visiting another town. The storm brings Calixta and Alcee together, and they have an affair. A storm can mean many things, both good and bad, and it is important to the story both symbolically and directly.

Kate Chopin uses several techniques to create the images of how freedom and entrapment affect Calixta and Alcee. With the opening section of the story, Bobinot already traps Calixta: “Mama’ll be ‘fraid, yes,� Bibi suggests. Bobinot in respond says, “She’ll shut the house…� By this sentence, the readers can obtain an initial idea of how the relationship between the two characters is. Bobinot did not care about the storm, which represents the marriage. Whereas, Bibi, show a great deal of braveness by laying “his little hand on his father’s knee and was not afraid.�. Chopin often uses the image of the shut of houses or doors to illustrate the idea of entrapment, in this case, shutting of the house. Secondly, in section two, it is filled with images of entrapment in their marriage: “She sat at a side window sewing furiously on a sewing machine.� This describes how long she has been unwillingly with this marriage. Chopin uses the word “furiously� to indicate the marriage is not going well for Calixta and she endured this marriage no longer. This word creates a tense atmosphere, which helps to develop the image of entrapment in this marriage. In addition, she is sitting next to a window. Does this suggest she is seeking for freedom?

“It began to grow dark, and suddenly realizing the situation she got up hurriedly and went about closing windows and doors.� Once more, the writer uses special words such as ‘dark’ and ‘closing window and doors’ to emphasize the effect of entrapment. Calixta is already entrapped in the dark house (marriage) but when the storm comes, the image shows even more entrapment appearances by the closing of the windows and doors. “and he went inside, closing the door after him. It was even necessary to put something beneath the door to keep the water out.� Chopin shows that both Calixta and Alcee have been entrapped. The writer uses her most common technique, using words such as “inside�, “closing the door�. However, this time, she pushes it even further in the second sentence. “It was even necessary� this develops stronger and more entrapped environments. “The house is too low to be struck, with so many tall trees standing about� This demonstrates they are trapped in this house (marriage) surrounded by many trees, which is impossible to break through.

To build the tension, Chopin constantly fills the story with imagery of entrapment; however, after the storm has passed, the reader finds that fear is gone, replaced by freedom. “The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems. Calixta, on the gallery, watched Alcee ride away. He turned and smiled at her with a beaming face; and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud�. After the storm has passed and they have had an affair, clearly they have been set free from the marriage with the image of the sun turning glistening green world into a palace of gems symbolizing a new life and hope. They are so happy that they have cheated, Alcee turned and smiled at her with a beaming face instead of feeling guilty. In addition, Calixta laughed aloud. They find an affair can bring them freedom. Moreover, the reader also finds the storm can be very important as symbolically and emblematically. “they laughed much and so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballiere’s.� over again the writer emphasises Calixta is free from the entrapment of this marriage, where it shows as opposed to being infuriated with her son and husband, she is pleased they are back. “Alcee Laballiere wrote to his wife, Clarisse, that night… He was getting on nicely…� As Alcee is getting his freedom, he is more than happy that Clarisse stay a month longer. It was a loving letter, full of tender solitude.

When looking at any work of literature, the theme of the work is an important element of fiction to determine. Finding and understanding the theme can be useful in interpreting the overall meaning of the story. Many times the author will use the same theme throughout their various works. Such is the case with Kate Chopin. Three of Chopin’s works: the short stories “Desiree’s Baby,� “The Story of an Hour� and “Lilacs� share the same theme with “The Storm�: freedom from what oppresses the females. For example, “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble� This sentence gives you a basic thought of what will happen, as you do some further reading you will find out more about the heart trouble can illustrate symbolically and ironically. “When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.� In “The Story of an Hour,� Mrs. Mallard, feels overpowered and oppressed by her husband. She locks herself in to show she is been entrapped. “Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.� While sad at first, she eventually feels that this is a good thing, as she is sitting next to a window seeking for freedom. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life� “open square,� “tops of trees,� “aquiver,� “new spring life� shows hope and a sign of freedom. The other main theme that runs through Chopin’s stories is men entrapment of women. “The roof came down steep and black like a cowl reaching out beyond the wide galleries that encircled the yellow stuccoed house.� The house itself shows it is tiny and compact from words such as “came down steep� and “encircled.� “In the little white room above the chapel, a woman knelt beside the bed on which Adrienne had slept.� Sister Agathe is trapped between the convent and Adrienne. The word “little� added a little tenser setting as we about to find out she is crying. “The spring had come again, and Paris was intoxicated�. Spring often is an image of new life but this time the phrase “again� demonstrates Paris is been intoxicated, Adrienne is been entrapped again.

Chopin does not only symbolize the images of entrapment and freedom in her stories, she also plays with words and images. For example, in “The Storm�. A storm, to most people, is seen as negative, referring to the actual, physical storm. However, in this story, it can represent a completely opposite impression. The storm can be thought to represent how an affair can affect a marriage. Kate Chopin not only play with words and images in ‘The Storm’; ‘The Dream of an Hour’ is one of which she also plays with the imagery. In the first few paragraphs of the story, we are told Mrs. Mallard’s husband, Mr. Brently Mallard, has been involved in a railroad disaster and in the list of people killed. Yet again, she plays with this imagery. For many people, if someone of their family dies, naturally they will feel distress and miserable. However the heroine is showing no regret and far from distress and miserable but joyful to be set free.

Her unique special writing style has led to her wide realm of societal understanding and analysis. For example, her childhood consisted of an upbringing by independent women as her father died in her childhood. Moreover, often the heroines of her stories are usually independent and brave women searching for freedom. Therefore, it shows her social life is reflected in her stories. In addition, Chopin entered the St. Louis Catholic Academy of the Sacred Heart, which might explain to us why she introduces the convent in “Lilacs.�

To conclude, Kate Chopin does show a great deal of her struggle for freedom and individuality throughout her short stories: “The Storm,� “Lilacs,� “Desiree’s Baby,� and “The Dream of an Hour.�

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