Kate Chopin’s Description Of The Topic Of Liberty In Women And Marriage As Depicted In Her Narratives, The Storm And The Story Of An Hour

Susan B Anthony stated that “Independence brings happiness,” but it hasn’t always been easy to achieve. Chopin’s “The Storm”, “The Story of an Hour”, and other stories featuring strong female leads, convey themes of independence and marriage. The stories also show that although society values relationships, their strength is still affected by individual desires. The stay-at home wife was viewed as a counter-cultural idea by many women of the time. Chopin’s female characters, however, showed a different perspective. They had mixed emotions because they didn’t know how to respond to their feelings.

Chopin demonstrates how women can be confused by their emotions or desires. He illustrates this by depicting two women that, given an opportunity, react truthfully and honestly. Calixta is her most prominent role in both “The Storm” (The Storm) and “The Story of an Hour”. Calixta plays a wife who is stuck at home in a storm with her son and husband. Calixta initially worries about her family during the storm. However, an unexpected visitor arrives and her feelings are completely changed. Chopin introduces temptation into Calixta’s marriage when he places her ex-girlfriend Alcee at her door. Calixta was not disappointed in her marriage. However, when offered the chance to remain loyal to her husband, she chose to choose the devil. “They didn’t heed the crashing rains, and she laughed as she laid in his arms.” (The Storm, 436). The main character is also filled with excitement and an independent feeling when she gets the chance to bounce up on Alcee. Calixta’s marriage to her husband is forgotten as Calixta becomes enamored with the freedom of being independent. Chopin demonstrates to the reader the difficulty of maintaining strong relationships due to the lack of loyalty and trust. Alcee, like Calixta, is duplicitous towards his partner. Alcee told his wife not to rush back in a letter he wrote (“The Storm”, 437). Chopin, when observing social morality explains that, in order to do the right thing, it is better to be selfish, like preferring independence over marriage. Calixta did not disclose the affair to her husband, and Alcee also kept it a secret. When it comes to the “Story of an Hour”, though, the female protagonist feels a completely different emotional confusion. Mrs. Mallard only recently learned about her husband’s passing and seems to be unsure if she feels relieved or devastated. Chopin begins the story by illustrating how important her marriage was. For example, Mrs. Mallard is described as “a child that has wept itself to sleep” and then continues to do so in dreams when hearing of her spouse’s death. She later changes the emotions of her character to a feeling of relief and an independence. “Over and over again, under her breathe: ‘free’,’ she repeated (“The Story of an Hour”, 426). The author demonstrates how social morality can be overlooked. Many would consider Mrs. Mallards’ newly found happiness and relief to be immoral. Chopin demonstrates that human relationships can be a little shady and people aren’t always honest.

Freedom is a desire that can make people feel trapped and cause them to be in difficult situations. Chopin’s characters experienced this desire differently in both of her powerful stories, but in similar circumstances. Calixta, who is having an affair with her husband, feels the need to escape the storm when making the decision to choose Alcee. Chopin uses females’ desire for independence as a way to express how women felt oppressed by the husbands they were married to. Marriage is questioned. Should you be loyal and miserable, or free and happy? Calixta is elated and empowered when Alcee comes into her life. “Her firm elastic flesh which knew for the fist time its birthright…and when he had her, it seemed that they swooned together at life’s borderland” (“The Storm”, 436). Chopin also shows us that a wife is not necessary to be content, and demonstrates how the need for more can devastate human affairs. The story of an hour’s Mrs. Mallard felt a greater sense of freedom when she learned of the death of her spouse. Chopin shows her freedom when Mrs. Mallard changes from sadness to joy. She comes to realize that love is not worth much in comparison with the self-confidence she has suddenly realized as the most important impulse of her life. Chopin wants to show that, while most women would suffer from depression when their husbands die, Mrs. Mallard felt relief. That was in direct opposition to the social norm. Chopin shows how a relationship can rob you of the feeling of exhilaration you deserve. Calixta is similar to Mrs. Mallard because both women were happiest without their husbands. Chopin shows the reader that women don’t always stay silent.

The feelings of confinement are not limited to those in prison. Chopin’s characters are confined in different ways, but their desires are similar. Calixta is confined to her home by her husband in “The Storm”, when he takes her and her son out during a storm. She stood at the windows with a very disturbed look in her eyes (The Storm 435). Chopin reveals that Calixta wouldn’t even have had the idea to seduce Alcee, if Calixta wasn’t left to her own devices. Alcee joined her at the windows” (“The Storm”, 435). Chopin shows with these quotes that Alcee was quick to seize the moment her husband left. Calixta’s marriage prevents her from experiencing the freedom she desires, despite the fact that it is against social convention for women to run errands. Chopin also reveals the importance of equal relationships in order for human relations to flourish and remain healthy. Mrs. Mallard, on the contrary, is emotionally restricted in “The Story of an Hour”. While Mr. Mallard still lived, he subconsciously restricted Mrs. Mallard’s ability to love herself. There would be no-one to care for her, she would have to take care of herself. Chopin states that while marriage is an important bond between two peoples, the freedom to express emotions and be independent can lead to a greater sense of happiness. Chopin states that, although the morality of that time was that wives should not feel restricted or confined by their husbands.

Chopin was a powerful voice for women of the nineteenth century. The themes of female independence and marriage appear in “The Storm” as well as “The Story of an Hour”. Chopin used her characters’ confusion of emotions to express their desires. Their desire for freedom within a male dominated society and the physical and emotional restrictions imposed by their husbands were all important in conveying her message.


  • ewanpatel

    I'm a 29-year-old educational bloger and teacher. I have been writing about education for about six years, and I have a B.A. in English from UC Santa Cruz. I also have a M.A. in English from San Francisco State University. I teach high school English in the Bay Area.