Essay, Research Paper: Kate Chopin

Literature: Kate Chopin

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Chopin gives a great deal of thought in her literature to issues that she views
as important. She was encouraged not to become a "useless" wife; she
was also involved in the idea of becoming an independent woman (LeBlanc 1). Kate
Chopin is a well-known American writer. Kate Chopin was born on February 8,
1851, in St. Louis, Missouri. At the age of 53, on August 22, 1904, she died due
to cerebral hemorrhage (Hoffman 1-2). Kate is the daughter of Eliza Faris
O’Flaherty and Thomas O’Flaherty. Her father was a well-established
merchant, who took part in many business investments. He is one of the founders
of the Pacific Railroad, and was on the train when it crashed into the Gasconade
River, in 1885. Her mother Eliza, was a member of a very elite social group, in
their French-Creole community. After Kate’s father passed away, her mother
became much more religious, and develops a closer relationship with Kate. Kate
also has an older half-brother, George O’Flaherty. He was a Confederate
solider in the Civil War, and in 1863 was captured by the Union forces, and dies
of typhoid fever while in prison. Kate spent her childhood in St. Louis Missouri
(Hoffman 1). Kate Chopin was only married once, and it was to Oscar Chopin, a
prosperous cotton farmer. The two were married one June 9, 1870, after a
yearlong courtship. Kate and Oscar had six children, five boys and one girl.
Jean was born in 1871, Oscar Jr. in 1873, George in 1874, Frederick in 1876,
Felix in 1878 and Lelia in 1879(Hoffman 1-2). When his cotton business failed
they moved to Cloutierville, a small town in Louisiana. They were married for 12
½ years. In 1882 Oscar died of Malaria, and Kate raised the children on her
own. Two years after Oscar died Kate and her children moved in with her mother.
Less than a year later her mother died and she was on her own again. Kate
received a formal education at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis. She
enjoys music, reading, writing, French and German. She became fluent in both
languages. Later in her life she continues her education by studying biology and
anthropology. Kate Chopin is known to be an extremely smart woman. (Toth 116) In
addition to writing the only other career Kate Chopin has, is being a housewife.
She was very busy taking care of her husband, and their six children. When
Kate’s mother died, she became very depressed, and began confiding in her
personal physician, Dr. Frederick Kolbenheyer. Dr. Kolbenheyer gave Kate the
idea to begin writing. Her first published work is “If It Might Be”, which
was published in 1889. Kate wrote novels, poetry, and short stories. She wrote a
total of twenty-nine pieces of literature. She wrote twenty pieces of fiction,
three short stories, and six novels. Some of her works are, “If It Might Be”
published in 1889, “A Point at Issue” published in 1889, Story of an Hour
published in 1894, A Night in Acadie published in 1896, The Storm published in
1897, The Awakening published in 1897, Young Dr. Grosse published in 1899, and
“The Gentleman from New Orleans” published in 1900 (Louisiana Educational
Authority 1-3). Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” is one of Kate Chopin’s less
famous short stories. Her creative use of theme and symbolism throughout “The
Storm”, is what makes it such a descriptive and detailed short story. She
discusses sexuality using the elements of theme and symbolism. In “The
Storm,” the theme, feminine sexuality and passion is important. Robert W.
Wilson, a critic, says: The title of "The Storm," with its obvious
connotations of sexual energy and passion, is of course critical to any
interpretation of the narrative. Chopin's title refers to nature, which is
symbolically feminine; the storm can therefore be seen as symbolic of feminine
sexuality and passion, and the image of the storm will be returned to again and
again throughout the story. (Wilson 1) Chopin talks about sex, as if it is
enjoyable, which is very inappropriate for this time period. This quote shows an
example of sex being made enjoyable “When he touched her breasts they gave
them selves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain
of delight. And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very
borderland of life’s mystery” (Chopin 3-4). The affair that takes place
during the storm, between two married people, does not ruin either of their
marriages, but instead strengthens both of them. Symbolism is another important
element of “The Storm,” because it is used many times throughout the story.
Another critic, Bert Bender, says that Calixta does not mean for this adulterous
encounter to occur, and that it is accidental and innocent. In the stifling heat
of the cabin, as the tempo of the storm builds, the love scene occurs (Bender
1). Alcee tries to calm Calixta down by touching her, when the thunder and
lightening brought on a rise of sexual desire between the two (Bender 1). As
usual Kate Chopin is trying to show that freedom nourishes. The importance of
nature symbolizing femininity throughout the story is that femininity is often
seen as an analysis about nature. Here is one occurrence, of when nature
symbolizes femininity; “Her lips were as red and moist as pomegranate seed”
(Chopin 3). This quote explains how in “The Storm” nature is used to
symbolize femininity, because it is comparing her lips to a pomegranate, which
is a fruit, and fruits are part of nature. There are many other examples of
symbolism throughout the story. Kate Chopin is a very well educated and bright
woman for her time period. In her literature she discusses topics that are
morally important to her such as, sexuality, femininity, a woman’s right to be
independent and make her own choices in life, and many more. Kate Chopin is a
very well known American writer.
Chopin, Kate. The Storm. Internet.
(16 Apr. 1999) Hoffman, Audrey Beth. Kate Chopin. Internet.
(29 Apr. 1999) LeBlanc, Jodie. Kate (O’Flaherty) Chopin. Internet.…omanticism/
Hhchopin/Chopinbio.html (16 Apr. 1999) Louisiana Educational Authority. Kate
Chopin: Chronology. (3
May 1999) Skaggs, Peggy. Kate Chopin. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985. Toth,
Emily. Kate Chopin. New York: William Morrow and Company Inc., 1990. Wilson,
Robert W. Feminine Sexuality and Passion: Kate Chopin’s The Storm. 22, Oct.
1992. Internet. (20 Apr. 1999)

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