The socioeconomic condition and status of a person greatly impacts whether or not love will be reciprocated. That is evidenced by the story of “Désirée’s Baby”, by Kate Chopin and the poems “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”, by Christopher Marlowe and “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”, by Sir Walter Raleigh. All these literary works relate love with socioeconomic status and how love is subordinated to society’s norms.
“Désirée’s Baby” is clearly a story about the clash of love and social status. It takes place in Louisiana in a time where slavery was still present and dictated the way of life. It is a story about love and how it can be plagued by racial divide. Armand did not care that Désirée’s past was unknown and decided to marry her. He probably didn’t care that much because as the saying goes: “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. At the time Désirée had her baby things started to change. When Madame Valmondé visited Désirée and the baby it was already obvious by her reaction that race and status were going to affect the love and the marriage. When Armand figured out that the baby wasn’t 100% white the marriage fell apart and it all ended. The fact that his wife was part black was to hard for him to bear, it was something unacceptable in society in those days. In an ironic twist of faith Armand then found out through a letter from his mother to his father that he was the one who was actually part black. The story clearly shows how status can interfere with love. As this passage shows it Armand loved Désirée:
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...gh love is a personal feeling it still needs, most of the time, society’s acceptance to become concrete. If society and its norms judge that a love shouldn’t happen and that it isn’t real (even if it is) it usually will not work out, it will be destined to fail. It is said that “all you need is love”, but that is rarely the case. Most people feel like they need acceptance and that will not happen if they break society’s norms, even love is subordinate to those norms.
Schilb, John, and John Clifford, eds. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.
Marlowe, Christopher. “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” Schilb and Clifford 846-847.
Raleigh, Sir Walter. “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd.” Schilb and Clifford 848.
Chopin, Kate. “Désirée’s Baby.” Schilb and Clifford 864-868.
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