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In the story, "The Kiss" by Kate Chopin, what roles do the settings play in the story?

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mmmmr | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 2, 2009 at 1:59 PM via web

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In the story, "The Kiss" by Kate Chopin, what roles do the settings play in the story?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 31, 2010 at 2:23 AM (Answer #1)

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Settings play a key role in establishing the characters of this terrific short story all about the way that a woman is able to manipulate her way into a wealthy marriage, in spite of an incident that almost derails her chances of securing her prize. Key to the introduction of this story is the setting and in particular the location of Brantain:

Brantain sat in one of these shadows; it had overtaken him and he did not mind. The obscurity lent him courage to keep his eyes fastened as ardently as he liked upon the girl who sat in the firelight.

Of course, as we discover as we read the rest of the story, Brantain is sat in shadow in more than one way. His attachment to the beautiful woman he is watching means that he is "in the dark" symbolically about her true nature and her true motivation for pursuing him. Notice too how other details of the setting foreshadow the way that Brantain is being tricked and gulled:

It was still quite light out of doors, but inside with the curtains drawn and the smouldering fire sending out a dim, uncertain glow, the room was full of deep shadows.

Words such as "dim," "uncertain" and "shadows" suggest that something slightly underhand is going on, an impression that is confirmed when we realise that Miss Nathalie has another lover and is only after Brantain for his money.

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agsidar | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 26, 2010 at 7:40 PM (Answer #2)

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The very first sentence of the story describes a room with drawn curtains and deep shadows which prevent the people from seeing each other clearly.The obscurity symbolizes the difficulty in seeing the truth and the reality. The fire symbolizes a romantic atmosphere.However, even fire can not help Brantain see Nathalie's face clearly; just like he can not understand her real personality ,feelings and opinions since she hides them well.The shadows in the setting give us a hint about how a person can hide his/her true feelings easily.  

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