The Storm By Kate Chopin Essay

1781 words - 7 pages

The first thing I noticed about Kate Chopin’s “The Storm,” is that it is utterly dripping with sexual imagery and symbolism. Our heroine, if you will, seems to be a woman with normally restrained passions and a well-defined sense of propriety, who finds herself in a situation that tears down her restraint and reveals the vixen within. I wonder if it was intentional that the name Calixta makes me think of Calypso – the nymph from Greek mythology. If half of the sexual symbolism I found in this story was intentional, Chopin was a genius. I was quite taken with the sexual imagery of the colors mentioned: white, and red. There is also mention a place called Assumption, while there’s nothing written on it in the bible, I believe it’s the popular opinion of those of Christian faiths, that Mary (Jesus’ mother) going to heaven was called “The Assumption.” Again, I cannot accept that as merely a happy coincidence, I believe its mention in the story was intentional. Finally, we have the storm, so central to the theme of the story that it was named for it. In this work, as well as others by Chopin, there is a recurring theme of infidelity, or women behaving in ways that society generally doesn’t accept, women behaving badly, if you will, I cannot help but wonder if Kate Chopin used her writing to express desires that she would not otherwise have expressed.
It doesn’t take hours of research to find the typical symbolism behind the most basic colors, white, and red among them. Brides wear white to symbolize purity or virtue. People give white roses as a token of the purity of the heart or the purity of their feelings. Red is associated with passion or love. Men buy the woman he loves, or wants to woe for the evening, red roses to show his passion for her. The white sacque Calixta wears reveals a little more naughty symbolism, as it has its own illicit history. “It was Madame de Montispan who invented the robes battantes, for the purpose of concealing her pregnancy.” (Orleans 110) The robes battantes, was the earliest form of the sacque dress, and Madame de Montispan was a mistress of King Louis XIV. The whiteness of her bedroom, dress and skin speak of purity and virtue, but her lips, “red and moist as a pomegranate seed,” (Chopin 337) speak of passion.
Assumption, the place where naughty things could have happened, but didn’t come to fruition. Was it the religious connotation that the town name invoked that made him stop? Perhaps something deeper, “for in Assumption he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her; until his senses would well-nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to a desperate flight. If she was not an immaculate dove in those days, she was still inviolate; a passionate creature whose very defenselessness had made her defense, against which his honor forbade him to prevail.” (Chopin 337) She was inviolate, which Merriam-Webster defines as “not harmed or changed,” which I think we are safe in assuming means virginal. ...

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