symbolism, style, tone, setting and perspective in this short story. demonstrated by comparing works of Kate Chopin, the "Story of an Hour" and "A Respectable Woman" and "Regret" Using these stories the writer examines how emotions and events are depicted with the positive and negative impacts of marriage and how this may be interpreted by a reader. The bibliography cites Four Sources
Kate Chopin: woman out of her time.
Literature is an art form that can be seen as both representative and critical of society. When we consider historical texts they can tell us a great deal about the culture and expectations that may have been prevalent in that society.
In the short story Regret by Kate Chopin we see the development of an attitude and the way that it was depicted with different layers to how it affects a person. However, it is the human condition and the deep emotions that characterises Chopin's stories underlining the importance of humanity and the false nature of social contracts and expectations and how truth can be hidden as a facade.
Kate Chopin was a woman out of her time. Her writing looks at the role of women in a society where they are constrained by the societal frameworks and ideas of propriety. This is reflected in the way that marriage is presented in a truly feminist perspective in her stories.
The subjects of Chopin's books have many common themes including the emotions of women and the analogy of youth. If we look at the way in which marriage was viewed with both positive and negative aspects we may gain a more comprehensive understanding of her work.
To undertake this we will look at three of her short stories written at different times; "Story of an Hour," "Regret" and "A Respectable Woman." In all of these books we can see the features and emotions represented by aspects of nature, showing us that human emotions may be seen as natural events.
Most of the work by Kate Chopin was mostly in the 1890's and can be seen as very advanced for its time. The books look to understand and explore more than the different levels at which society operates, but looks to the human condition and the way that relationships are formed and develop.
In the 'Story of an Hour' we see a strange situation where a young wife, who appears to have been a dutiful wife, it told that her husband has died. She cries and shows grief rather than going into shock, but then realised the liberation that the death of the greying husband will bring.
The analogy is made with the prospect of freedom and a life to look forward to instead of dread with the arrival of the spring and a breeze. Signs of life that the reader may interpret as the joy of youth and the way in which the death of a husband has brought liberation. She sees this herself with the exclamation "Free! Body and soul free!" (Chopin PG).
These feeling of a positive nature are only relevant now, as they do not replace strong negative feelings. It appears from the impression derived from this story that there was a mild dread, but no strong emotions present within the marriage.
Therefore, there are no strong negative emotions impacting the relationship as a result of the social condition Louise has received. This must have resulted in an emotional void that is reflected in the reactions of the apparent widow.
In the beginning of the story we see that there is an acceptance that the reaction of the apparent widow, Louise, is not that which would normally be expected.
This is where it is the absence of emotion that may be seen to impact. The normal reaction may have been shock and disbelief, but for Louise it was to cry. This may be seen as an indication of the way in which the Chopin saw marriage as having a stifling effect; constraining a woman so that she could not be herself, only presenting a face to the world that is socially acceptable.
The society of the time was full of formalities, marriage was both a social and a personal contract. The formalities effected the way in which marriages were undertaken and conducted. In many instances the women was not able to learn who she was by complying with the behaviour and patterns expected of her by the society of which she was a member.
In the 'Story of an Hour' e may see the liberation of the breaking of these ties but it is a gradual realisation. The feeling that Louise has is not immediately recognised, but once grasped are embraced and exulted, empowering Louise, as we see she " There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory" (Chopin PG).
The final criticism of the state of marriage may be seen in the way that Louise dies of 'Joy' when she sees her husband is not dead. Her heart gives out, but in reading the story we realise that although this may be seen as joy by observers, it is of grief of the real loss she suffers that day. However, this would be unspeakable in that society. Then thought of freedom brought the woman alive, and the loss of it killed her.
The only positive aspect of marriage we can see in this story is one where it brings maturity and stability, as these are the traits that appear to be lost as the liberation is found, but the cost of freedom is very high.
We can also argue that the storm of grief she suffers form may be hypothetical, illustrating the charade of marriage, yet this may not have been known at the beginning of the story, as she herself was not conscious of her confining position.
If we look at the story of Regret we again see the main character as a woman, Mamzelle Aurelie, who possesses a strong appearance and character, she is a worker on a farm, not a woman of means but a hard working labourer on her own farm who could take care of herself (Chopin 228).
Unlike the Story of an Hour Chopin's heroine in this instance is unmarried, although she once had the chance of being married but refused the proposal when she was twenty and now thirty years later she held no regrets of having refused it (Chopin 228).
Mamzelle Aurelie is over come with the task of babysitting a neighbours children while the Mother goes off to visit her sick mother, although this task for some may seem daunting Aurelie took to it well and with a few hiccups in the first few days such as Ti Nomme's passion to pick flowers, she was forced at the time to tie him in a chair "T ain't enough to tell 'im, Mamzelle Aurelie," Marceline instructed her; "you got to tie 'im in a chair. It's w'at maman all time do w'en he's bad: she tie 'im in a chair." (Chopin 229)
Mamzelles task is not made easier by the little errands she has to perform for the children before bedtime such as bathing them and telling stories to Ti Nomme or rocking Elodie gently to sleep, all these she performed with no complaint, yet as she told her cook "me, I'd rather manage a dozen plantation' than fo' chil'ren. It's terrassent! Bonte! don't talk to me about chil'ren!" (Chopin 229).
However, when the time came for the children to leave after two-week Mamzelle Aurile had become attached to them, it was upon their departure from her home that she realized her life was incomplete.
She realized that she was indeed lonely and that with the children gone from her home it was quiet and peaceful yet empty. It is here that Mamzelle does one thing that she has probably denied her self for many years, she cries like a man with deep sobs that rack the body and soul, she was so engulfed in her emotions that she did not notice her dog licking her hand to comfort her, her regrets were deep yet what were they?
By looking at this story we can see that Chopin is attempting to give the impression that loneliness although for many is a way of life that has been happily chosen, when the solitude is broken my a period of company especially in the case of women by the screams and cries of little children it can make a person realize that the loneliness was a disease and problem that is too late to cure.
If we look at the short story "A Respectable Woman," we again see Chopin's love for using the woman as the heroine of her tales, in this instance the woman is Mrs. Baroda, a woman of good standing in the New Orleans region, living in resolute happiness with her husband (Chopin 232).