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Kate Chopin Essay

1279 words - 5 pages

Kate Chopin's short stories often include male and female gender roles that are sometimes challenged by the female characters in the stories. Most of her short stories, including "Desiree's Baby" and "The Story of an Hour," show females that undergo a transformation from weak and dependent on their husbands to stronger, more independent women. Desiree from "Desiree's Baby" and Louise Mallard from "The Story of an Hour" are examples of women changing throughout the story.In "The Story of an Hour", the reaction of Louise Mallard to the death of her husband. When Louise learns her husband has died in a train accident, "her response is atypical". She cried upon hearing the news, readily accepting it. The author also examines the two "selves" of the main character: "the social self - Mrs. Mallard - and the private, female self - Louise". Louise feels completely free when she is alone in her room after hearing about her husband's death.. After her husband's death, Louise realizes she will "eventually revel in the 'monstrous joy' of self-fulfillment," a freedom she has not know prior to her husband'sdeath. However, the irony of the story is that Louise's husband has not died. In fact, when he comes home to Louise, his arrival ultimately kills her.Kate Chopin presents the theme of women's lack of power and inferiority in a patriarchal society in her short story "Desiree's Baby." Along with much of her writing, Chopin presents a feminist view in this work due to growing up in a home that lacked a male influence (Ker). Chopin explores "Armand's power over women" and, more specifically, his power over Desiree to incorporate this theme into the story.Desiree represents the inferior role of women in the patriarchal society in which she lives. Armand's power over Desiree is apparent, because she is only happy when she pleases her husband. For example, when "he frowned she trembled" and "when he smiled, she asked no greater blessing of God" (Chopin). Because Desiree gives birth to a child of mixed race, Armand automatically assumes she is the one with "tainted" blood instead of him. She is then put in a situation where she can be neither right nor wrong.Along the lines of her situation, that she is powerless as a "result of the life-and-death power of the husband in her society". Armand, being a male during this time, presumes that he has a right to exhort his power over his wife; therefore, Desiree's mother advises her to leave based on Armand's unfavorable reaction to having a mixed child. Even with this advice, Desiree must seek the approval of her husband to leave home with the baby, which again shows his control in their relationship.Women's inferiority to men is also present with Armand's preference for a male baby. Chopin points out that he would be happy with a girl; however, Armand's extreme pride is "chiefly because it is a boy" (Chopin). Another indication of this inferior rank of women is when Chopin explains that Desiree was "purposely left" by her...

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