An Absence Of Reserve         Many Of Kate Chopin’s Works Were

1383 words - 6 pages

An Absence of Reserve Many of Kate Chopin's works were rejected and damned during her lifetime. Some reasons are her intense feelings about independence for women, the era in which she lived (the late 19th Century), and the region in which she lived ("The South" )(Angelfire). Another reason her work was scorned is her honesty about her character's true qualities (Howard). Kate Chopin's writing has had a significant influence upon both men's and women's personal feelings toward women's roles, as well as society's images of a woman. At the point in time that Chopin's most notable work, The Awakening, was published, the understood role of the "ideal woman" would be as the unobtrusive but supportive wife and modest mother. This woman would never speak her mind in public unless it was an echo of her husband's thoughts, nor would she engage in discussions about or behavior even leaning toward any form of sexuality - but especially not infidelity. (Goddess) Since most of Chopin's writings touch upon women's passions, sexuality, independence, marriage and infidelity, and because her characters were often portrayed as very independent women who could take or leave men (figuratively and literally), much of her work was rejected. It stands to reason that if rejected by male reviewers as she was (because most of the reviewers were men), that the women (their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters) would, as required by the mores of the times, reject her too. Ann Bail Howard, in her Internet article, tells us that although Chopin writes for all women, "it is the woman who demands her own direction and chooses her own freedom that interests Chopin the most." (Howard) No namby-pamby women for Kate, no sir. Unfortunately, that is one of the main reasons her writing was criticized so strongly. No men of that time wanted their wives even coming close to the independent modes of thought that Chopin's characters had, much less imitating their moral values. For example, Chopin writes quite a lot about infidelity, both directly and indirectly. In The Storm, a man and a woman commit adultery while thrown together by a storm. And in A Respectable Woman, although Chopin does not explicitly tell us that Mrs. Baroda has an affair with her husband's friend, she strongly implies it at the end of the story when Mr. Baroda says to Mrs. Baroda: "I am glad, chere amie, to know that you have finally overcome your dislike for him [his friend]; truly he did not deserve it." and Mrs. Baroda replies: " 'Oh,' she told him, laughingly, after pressing a long, tender kiss upon his lips, 'I have overcome everything! You will see. This time I shall be very nice to him.' " Even an undercurrent shadowing of this type of behavior was enough to offend society of the South in the late 1800's. Respectable women just did not think on those sorts of tawdry subjects.And speaking of respectable women, in her short story, A Respectable Woman, when describing the...

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