Kate Chopin Research Papers
Kate Chopin research papers show she is one of the most well-known nineteenth-century female American authors. Though she is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening, Chopin has also gained acclaim for her portrayals of women in short stories such as the following:
Much like her longer fiction, Kate Chopin’s short stories focus on the lives of women in a male-dominated society. While her female protagonists are not always considered strong by today’s definition of womanhood, they show extreme determinism in light of the patriarchal nineteenth-century societies in which they live. Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” is one such heroine.
Throughout the course of this short story and within the confines of an hour, Kate Chopin gives readers a solid understanding of Mrs. Mallard’s life. Though readers are not presented with an in depth understanding of the main character’s daily life, they know that Mrs. Mallard has been sheltered because of her heart condition and has therefore not been able to make any important decisions for herself. In displaying her main character’s sheltered life in this way, Chopin comments on the conflicting world-views held by the patriarchal society in which she and her character lived and the oppression felt by many women in light of that world-view. In “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard discovers her personal freedom through her husband’s death. When her husband walks through the front door at the end of the story, that freedom is lost so that Mrs. Mallard is personally faced with the story’s major conflict and must therefore decide whether she can continue living in the protected world she has always known.
It is evident that, while Chopin has consistently been recognized for her achievements in the world of literature, there have been some changes in the manner in which she has been introduced. This can be explained on several levels. First, through the benefit of previously unpublished papers and journals, it is predictable that an assessment would be more personal and accurate. However, it is also a testament to the changing times and a shift in the spotlight of societal value.
It is logical that Chopin’s detailed children’s stories and milder human interest pieces would have been accepted in her own time period. Then, as society recovered from the Civil War and strove to rebuild with civil rights and equality, the focus on Chopin’s ability to depict the Creole population and her colorful characterizations of the Bayou were popular. The rise of feminism could hardly ignore the powerful message and struggle for self-awareness and individualism in the majority of Chopin’s female characters. And, as popular psychology began to focus more on the nurturing of America’s great figures, it is given that we should strive to understand how this magnificent authoress developed. Research has even focused on the Southern aspect of Chopin’s writing. Anyone who has studied Chopin and her works has viewed her through their own ideals, priorities and even prejudices. Despite their vantage point, however, it is doubtful that anyone could come away unchanged. Regardless of the age in which Chopin’s works were written, or the age in which they are interpreted, they continue to inform and influence.
Chopin’s works have been devoured by generations of readers. As society has grown and changed, so has the public vision of Chopin and her texts. It is the inevitability of analysis that the interpreter will bring to a work of literature his own ideals, priorities and bias. During each subsequent period in which Chopin and her stories have been examined, different aspects of her character and story elements have been recognized and celebrated. Despite the shifting focus on Chopin’s works, the essential elements of her literature remain constant. Chopin offers informative and didactic prose that accurately portrays the social, political and psychological aspects of the human condition. Despite the passing years and the rapidly changing world, readers today can still relate to the Chopin’s characters. For even now the fundamentals of human condition, the inherent struggle is virtually unchanged.