Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin: A Controversial Feminist
Kate Chopin was one of the greatest and earliest feminist writers in history, whose works have inspired some and drawn much criticism from others. Chopin, through her writings, had shown her struggle for freedom and individuality.
Katherine (O’Flaherty) Chopin was born February 8, 1851 to a wealthy Irish Catholic Family in St. Louis, Missouri (“Kate Chopin” 1). Her father, Thomas O’Flaherty, was a founder of the Pacific Railroad, who unfortunately died when a train fell off a collapsed bridge on its inaugural trip in 1855. Only a few years later, Kate’s older brother George was captured by Union soldiers during the Civil War in 1863. He then died in captivity from typhoid fever. The loss of both of Kate’s male role models created the powerful relationships she had with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Eliza Faris O’Flaherty, Kate’s mother, was a member of a French-Creole community and an active participant in that community. After her husband’s death, Eliza became more religious and closer to her daughter. Kate had also developed strong ties with her great-grandmother, who taught her how to speak French and play the piano.
Kate received most of her education in St. Louis at the St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart (2). Soon after her father and brother’s deaths, Kate’s great-grandmother had also passed away. Kate took the loss very badly and absorbed herself in literature. After her graduation in 1868, Kate spent the next few years living a privileged lifestyle in the St. Louis high society. She enjoyed life as an independent woman and was criticized for walking unaccompanied through the city and for her smoking habit. Kate met Oscar Chopin, a Louisiana cotton factor, in the late 1880’s. After a yearlong engagement she finally married him on June 9, 1870. When Oscar’s cotton factoring business failed in 1879, he decided to move up north to his family’s plantations. It was there that Kate became introduced to the Creole community that became an important focus of her writing. In 1882, Oscar contracted swamp fever and died a year later from complications of the disease. He left Kate with six children.
Kate had five boys and a girl: Jean, Oscar, George, Frederick, Felix, and Lelia. After O...

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...threatened by lack of individuality and the lack of opportunity for change. Leder mentioned that what was different about Edna besides her femininity, was that her true identity was not discovered at the beginning of the story. Eventually as she awakened to her true self, she could not accept either culture and swam to her death, described by Leder as, ”submerging…in the biological reality she has rejected” (104).
After a fifteen year literary career marked by success, plagued by scorn and failure, two novels and over one hundred short stories, Kate Chopin died on August 22, 1904 from a cerebral hemorrhage (“Kate Chopin” 2). She was fifty-three at the time of her death.
Kate Chopin’s stories, although controversial, are still widely read today. She was a source of inspiration for many feminist literary critics. She started the trend that many future feminist writers will follow. Her works, no matter how praised or condemned, will always be a reminder of the struggle for women’s rights and liberties. Her life can still be told by her stories and it is by those stories that she is immortalized, and a symbol of freedom for women forever.
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