The Writing Style And Beliefs Of Kate Chopin

2109 words - 9 pages

The Writing Style and Beliefs of Kate Chopin  

    Kate Chopin was an extraordinary writer of the nineteenth century. Despite failure to receive positive critical response, she became one of the most powerful and controversial writers of her time. She dared to write her thoughts on topics considered radical: the institution of marriage and women's desire for social, economic, and political equality. With a focus on the reality of relationships between men and women, she draws stunning and intelligent characters in a rich and bold writing style that was not accepted because it was so far ahead of its time. She risked her reputation by creating female heroines as independent women who ...view middle of the document...

Conventional thinking is shown when the heroine, a beautiful and voluptuous Spanish girl who represents the "bad" woman, gives up the idea of marrying a wealthy rice planter and marries a man she does not really want. Alcée also conforms to this thinking, and instead of marrying the hot, beautiful, full-bodied Calixta he desires, he takes the more conventional wife-figure Clarisse.

The sequel to "At the 'Cadian Ball" is "The Storm," which was written in December of 1898. Because of its controversial message and the attacks by critics of Chopin's work, "The Storm" was not published until 1969. This story portraying infidelity is almost the opposite of "At the 'Cadian Ball" because it does not comply with conventional writing of that day; it implies that the sin of adultery can be a good thing. Chopin shows the reader the same characters she presented in the 1892 story, but she dares six years later to bring Calixta and Alcée together once again. Their pent-up desires match the intensity of the storm, and they make love. Not only does Chopin dare to discuss infidelity in marriage, but she also shows that Alcée's wife, who is away on a trip, is enjoying "the first free breath since her marriage" (Chopin 348). The two stories show the daring of Chopin's writing. She throws out conventional views, just as she has her brave heroines do. It is in this bold writing style where Kate Chopin found her niche. "The Storm" is considered by many as Chopin's finest work.

Chopin's description of sexual fulfillment outside of marriage raises an interesting question about the sin of adultery. Chopin ends "The Storm" with this line: "So the storm passed and everyone was happy" (348). The message related is that it is hard to see how adultery could be destructive to the relationships of Calixta and Babinot or to Clarisse and Alcée if all seem happier in the end. Chopin refuses to mix guilt with sexuality (Magill, Critical 1136). Her idea that women are sensual characters who seek fulfillment is not widely accepted at the beginning of her writing career but were seen in a new light in the twentieth century. "The Storm" features an intimate scene that has a smooth, sensual, poetic quality. Ms. Chopin is very tasteful in her description of the act of sex. She illustrates Calixta's passion as follows: "When he touched her breasts they gave themselves 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" (347).

Literary critics agree that Chopin knows exactly what should be left out: "Few serious American writers, even now, try to describe the physical act of love, and most of these attempts fail for being too literary" (Arner 3). Just as the eye perceives beautiful clothing which suggests the female form as more seductive than a naked body, Chopin leaves omissions in her description of the sexual act for the reader to fill in. Arner...

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