The Misleading Message of Chopin's The Storm
Kate Chopin's "The Storm" focuses on two simultaneous and related storms, one a fierce tempest of the natural world with the expected rain, wind, lightening, and thunder, the other a cyclone of the mind and heart which results in an short love affair between the two main characters. With her husband Bobinot and her son Bibi stranded in town by the storm, Calixta finds herself at home alone when an old lover, Alcee, rides up. The storm, the worst in two years, drives the two indoors, where, though they have not met in five years, they soon are embracing each other. As the storm outside reaches a climax, the emotions in the house spike to a fever pitch, and, though not directly stated, it is implied in the narrative that the two engage in sexual relations. As the storm passes on Alcee leaves, and we are told that everyone, including the uninvolved spouses, is improved and benefitted by the romantic engagement.
Kate Chopin wrote this story at a time when Christian and Victorian morality was still adhered to, at least in name, and extramarital relationships were widely condemned in public. Thus, though Chopin had penned many other well-received pieces, The Storm, written after the highly controversial The Awakening, remained unpublished during her lifetime. That this particular work of Chopin s is more widely accepted today is perhaps a poor reflection on our society’s literary tastes, for The Storm is neither a realistic depiction of life nor the results of male-female relationships.
The main problem with this work is its total lack of realism in its portrayal of the effects of the rel...
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...re is no chance that Alcee will marry her, considering he did not think it proper when an even better opportunity presented itself earlier his life. Perhaps Clarisse, if she truly dislikes her husband, will not mind the situation too much, but such an affair would create an awkward marriage between her and Alcee, and divorce was still not at that time conducive to making you popular in good society. Finally, it would be unlikely for Bobinot not to find out, and, from the brief sketch presented of the good but unimaginative man in The Storm, it would probably crush him to lose his wife, and what acts such a disenchantment would lead to, no one could say. Considering all that has been mentioned, perhaps a more accurate ending for the story would be: The storm had passed, only to come again, and everyone was the worse because of it.
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