Kate Chopin Women

1123 Words5 Pages
Introduction

Kate Chopin wrote numerous poems and short stories. In my essay I will primarily deal with her novel The Awakening and the short story At the Cadian Ball. I will try to address women’s issues in her fiction, such as motherhood, marriage, adultery, sexuality. When it comes to Chopin, there is plentitude of topics to be dealt with; however, I selected only a few to focus on. For her fiction, the concept of ‘mother-woman’ is highly important; nonetheless, before addressing that, I will give a short portrait of the author-woman behind it – Kate Chopin herself. Moreover, during her time, a concept of “New Woman” was emerging and her heroines (such as Edna Pontellier, Calixta, Clarisse) reflect some of the characteristics. And finally
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One of them is also miscegenation, which she tackled in Desiree’s Baby. She generally wrote short stories, just in 1890s she wrote more than 100 short stories. Her most controversial work was her novel The Awakening which explored the taboo topic of female sexuality – among others. The narrator showed sympathy for the unconventional heroines, for which Chopin herself was harshly criticized.
She is one of the most neglected authors of the 19th century, only with the rise of the second wave of feminism in the 1960s her work gained more prominence. Chopin was of French Creole and Irish ancestry, she attended Catholic school and after graduation was introduced into Southern society as a debutante. It was only after her husband’s death and after she had moved back to St. Louis to her mother’s that she began writing. Oftentimes, with children and housework, she was forced to write her stories in one sitting, without any revisions. In 1894 she had Bayou Folk published, which was a collection of short stories, followed by A Night in Acadie (1897). Sadly, she died five years after the novel’s publication, marginalized and
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For the first time, some women had a choice between motherhood and professional career and shockingly some of them choose the latter. “For Kate Chopin, who regarded American culture as stifling, the French school, and particularly Maupassant, opened up the prospect of approaching ‘‘modern topics’’ with new openness.” Sandra M. Gilbert defines “New Woman” as “a woman who choose to be politically, professionally, and emotionally autonomous.” They were not interested in “women’s culture,” writing about typical female topics such as marriage and motherhood. They decided to write about something not even men could write better – about themselves. And with The Awakening we get a female author writing about female issues – Chopin offers us deeper understanding of women’s psyche. Furthermore, Linda Wagner-Martin points out that “to describe the novel as a female bildungsroman (…) is to change definitions for a readership that thought it already knew the story Chopin wanted to tell.” A late 1890s reader would probably expect younger, single Edna, however Chopin alternates those notions – Edna is already a wife and a mother at the beginning of the novel, we assume to know her identity, yet we witness Edna’s spiritual and mental search for
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