As a forerunner of the modern feminist movement, Kate Chopin explored bold new characterizations of her female subjects. Chopin is famous for her progressive depiction of the female characters in her stories. Two such stories, 'The Storm' and 'The Story of an Hour,' examine and refute the long held ideal of the subservient wife. 'The Storm,' written in 1898 but not published until later because of its provocative content, describes the passionate extramarital affair between Calixta and Alcee, a former lover. 'The Story of an Hour' follows Louise Mallard as she deals with the death of her husband. Chopin uses the extraordinary events in the characters' lives to bring them out of the coma of submissive living. In both stories, the female protagonist awakens from a marriage-induced trance and into a state of self-awareness as a person separate from her husband.
Up until the early twentieth century, the accepted role of a woman was that of a housewife and mother. In the opening of ?The Storm,? Calixta exemplifies this homemaker image perfectly; the first time the reader sees Calixta she is ?sewing furiously on a sewing machine? (858). When the storm approaches, her first priority is not her own protection; rather, she gets up ?hurriedly and [goes] about closing windows and doors? and gathering Bobinot?s Sunday clothes, which she had hung out to dry (958). By showing Calixta as a selfless extension of her house and family and not as an individual person, Chopin reiterates the stereotypical inferior image of a woman. After setting up Calixta in this manner, Chopin quickly moves to awaken her with the arrival of her former lover, Alcee Laballiere. Hi...
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...t from the societal constraints placed on them and never to revert from this freedom. Through the Calixta?s and Louise?s awakenings, Chopin describes two different ways to accomplish the same goal. Both characters make choices to hold onto their newfound freedom, although on the surface it seems as though neither gets to enjoy her freedom fully. Chopin cleverly uses the endings to show that both characters find a freedom that endures, and both make choices to hold onto this happiness.
Chopin, Kate. ?The Storm.? Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. 2nd ed. Ed. John Schlib and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin?s, 2003. 858-61.
Chopin, Kate. ?The Story of an Hour.? Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. 2nd ed. Ed. John Schlib and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin?s, 2003. 862-63.
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