Conformism In Desiree's Baby

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In a male dominated society, women are forced to conform to the moulds that have been prescribed for them. When they do not fit into the categories that have been defined for them, they face ultimate rejection and suffer the consequences of non-conformity. This male dictated view of women is evident in the writings of 19th Century women writers who unconsciously view society through the perspectives that have been imprinted in their minds by society. A case in point is Kate Chopin through her work, Desiree’s Baby which chronicles the tale of an abandoned baby that is raised by a wealthy couple, the Valmonde’s. They were childless and raised her lovingly as their own. Desiree is married by Armand Aubigny, a wealthy landowner despite the protestations of Valmonde in view of the girl’s obscure origins but eventually rejects her when she gives birth to a coloured child. The story ends with a surprising twist when it is revealed that it is in fact Armand that is of mixed race. Chopin’s depiction of the Desiree’s circumstances falls short of Gilbert and Gubar’s proposal in Madwoman in the attic that women writers intending to be independent must first remove the veil of male imposed perception of in society and in literature. This paper argues that Armand’s initial acceptance and ultimate rejection of Desiree and her baby demonstrates the view that in a male dominated society, the woman’s identity is shaped by the men around her who will manipulate this identity to suit their
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