Analysis of Kate Chopin’s Writing Essay
Many people look at Kate Chopin’s writing as all one sided for womens’ rights. The idea of her being a woman and wanting gender equality blinds people about a more important message. This message is that all people have faults about them and that some men can be strong and some can be weak, and the same goes for women. Humans, more or less human nature itself, have many flaws about them. Kate Chopin uses figurative language to create a main character or idea that tries to overcome an obstacle or oppressor of some sort.
Kate Chopin uses figurative language, mostly commonly imagery, metaphors, and personification, to develop her flawed characters and ideas. In “A Harbinger” Bruno looks at the church where “[someone else] had gathered this wildflower for his own…to have been only love’s harbinger after all!” The metaphor comparing Diantha to a wild flower makes her seem so beautiful and it magnifies the mistake that Bruno made, which is waiting too long for her to come to him. Juanita, the main character in “Juanita” is described as “very shy…five-feet-ten, and more than two-hundred pounds of substantial flesh…” This is good use of imagery which describes Juanita as beautiful, but overweight. The part about being overweight is a major flaw which she possesses, but seems to be beneficial compared the standards of the men in her town. The blind man in “The Blind Man” while trying to sell pencils to make a living had “Hunger, with sharp fangs, [that] was gnawing at his stomach and a consuming thirst parched his mouth and tortured him. The sun was broiling.” The personification gives the reader a horrible sense of how the hunger feels to the blind man, and it makes the sun seem hotter than what it really is. The title, “The Blind Man” tells the reader what the flaw about the man is too. It is self-explainable. He is blind. Joyce Dyer, a literary criticist, claims that Chopin uses imagery in order to create southern settings that relate to the characters and writing style and that affect the plot line (Dyer 447). Thomas Schoenberg and Lawrence Trudeau, editors, say that Chopin should use a more forward and agressive approach to developing Chopin’s characters (“Awakening” 145). In “The Night Came Slowly” a voice comes into the speaker’s head and says, “Why do fools cumber the earth…A man came to-day with his ‘Bible Class.’ He is detestable with his red cheeks and bold eyes and coarse manner and speech.” The metaphors make man seem worse than what he really is. The idea that man is flawed is a flaw because the speaker, who is a man, should not go against his own species. It is like tyranny. The girl in “Ripe Figs” was very impatient when she went to see if the figs had grown yet so that she could go to see her cousins, “Every day Babette…disconsolate away again.” The imagery described well how optimism that young children have is a major reason for disappointment. In “The Kiss” Nathalie, the girl that Brintain was courting in the beginning, eyes “[are] bright…the kiss which they invited.” The personification describes Nathalie as wanting to kiss Mr. Harvy and cheat on her husband. Figurative language used by Kate Chopin develops the characters and ideas with their flaws.
Kate Chopin’s short stories are revolved around flawed ideas and characters. Cynthis Wolf, a literary criticist, claims that Chopin’s writing is similar to other American feminist writers who also revolve there stories around detrimental figures. She says that the difference is that the other writers concentrate more on a direct approach and attack the male gender and make the females seem helpless (Wolf 220). Bruno in the story “A Harbinger” loves Diantha but he does not go after her, “And then there was the gentle Diantha…another flashed into them…Bruno sighed a good deal over his work that winter.” Her absence causes Bruno to be sad during the winter. In “Juanita” Juanita is fat, which is a flaw, but people think she is beautiful “Her face…say anything else.” This is not normal compared to standards today where girls want to be skinny. In “The Blind Man” the man is blind and he is the main character of the story, and he screams at little kids and doesn’t show consideration towards the hit man “With the instinct…sent him on his way.” An adult should not scream at kids who do not know any better. The blind man basically has a hard time getting through a day, and his problems cause him to get into sticky situations, which result in him getting mad or not knowing the situation that he is in. In “The Night Came Slowly” the man is against humans and their nature, “I am losing…the caressing wind?” He praises nature “The katydids began their slumber song…warm love thrills.” This idea that nature is better than humans and that he is against his own species is a major flaw. He does not believe in his own kind. In “Ripe Figs” the girl, Babette, gets her hope up all the time and is disappointed in the end, “Every day Babette…disconsolate away again.” This also shows that human nature causes humans to always look forward to things instead of living in the moment. In “The Kiss” Nathalie’s fiancé is shy and does not stand up for her “’I believe,’ stammered…trusted herself to speak.” The story revolves around Brintain and Nathalie and Brintain has a huge confidence issue. The short stories of Kate Chopin revolve around flawed characters and their nature and ideas.
Kate Chopin presents obstacles to her main and supporting characters that they try to overcome. Jelena Krstovic, author of Kate Chopin (1851-1904), says that Chopin was looked upon as a heavy womens’ activist and that in many of her stories she shows the power of women. She explains how in “A Pair of Silk Stockings” a woman, Mrs. Sommers, tries to escape the constraints of marriage by indulging herself in unnecessary valuables with her newly found money instead of spending it wisely on her kids. She also talks about how Chopin wrote a story called “Athenaise” in which a bride runs away from her fiancé because she does not hold herself well fitted for her fiance’s wanting of a wife (Krstovic 205). In “A Harbinger” Bruno has to deal with the fact that Diantha has left and married someone else. In “Juanita” Men try to impress Juanita and they smother her with their affection. In “The Blind Man” the man comes to many obstacles throughout his day. He is unaware of where he walks and he has trouble getting from door to door to sell pencils. In “The Kiss” Brintain has to face Mr. Harvy’s advances on his fiancé. Nathalie, Brintain’s fiancé has to face Mr. Harvy’s advances too. In “Ripe Figs” Babette has to wait for the figs to ripen and she is impatient. The man in “The Night Comes Slowly” does not necessarily have an obstacle to overcome, but God does confirm his views on the theme of man versus nature. Kate Chopin presents her characters with obstacles that they have to overcome. Many of Kate Chopin’s characters overcome their obstacles. The men in “Juanita” try to capture so much of her, Juanita’s, attention but she doesn’t let their fake charm and immature affection get to her so she ends up being with a man who keeps to himself and only has one leg “I caught a glimpse…wander in this manner.” She finds a man who is modest and who she obviously loves since they are allegedly married in the end. Mr. Harvy lies to Nathalie to try and get a kiss at her wedding. Nathalie wants to kiss him but she does not, “Her eyes were bright…the kiss which they invited.” Nathalie does not kiss him so she prevails. Babette does in fact wait for the figs to ripe so she sees her cousins. Kathy D. Darrow, editor of “Feminism in Nineteenth-Century Literature” claims that Kate Chopin writes of women in a way that’s different from other feminist writers. Chopin writes about women overcoming the obstacles in front of them. Darrow provides examples of how in one of Chopin’s stories she writes about a woman named Adele Rotignolle who rejects the confinement of marriage. In another one of her stories she writes of Edena Pontellier who kills herself instead of living a boring life as an oppressed woman (“Feminism” 1). Some of the obstacles were overcame by the charcaters.
Some of Kate Chopin’s characters do not overcome the obstacles in their way. Krstovic says how the battle between the bride and groom in “Athenaise” is harmful to both of them and the bride does not succeed in living without him because she figures out that she is pregnant and she returns to him (Krstovic 205). Bruno is one of these characters. He gets sad because of it and he “[turns away] with hurried strides he descended the hill again, to wait by the big water-tank for a train to come along.” He kills himself because of Diantha leaving. In “The Kiss” Mr. Harvy kisses Nathalie even though she is engaged to Brintain, “During one of the pauses…kiss upon her lips.” Nathalie’s fiancé is shy and does not stand up for her “’I believe,’ stammered…trusted herself to speak.” Mr. Harvy is trying to get in the way of her and Brintain’s relationship. Brintain fails to overcome Mr. Harvy. Some of Kate Chopin’s characters failed to make overcome the obstacles in their way. Kate Chopin revolves her writing around flawed characters and ideas that convey that everyone has flaws about them, using imagery, metaphors, and personification, and that no one gender is better than the other. Kate Chopin’s writing sends a message to the world that there are many things that will try to stop someone in their progress in life. It is their job to try and get around it, or let it oppress them. It is a “bigger picture” than just the oppression of women by men. The oppression of women is an important theme which her writing addresses, but it is not the whole point.