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Based on "The Storm," what were Chopin's views on women in this era when their opinions...

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elvin1990 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:30 AM via web

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Based on "The Storm," what were Chopin's views on women in this era when their opinions were generally ignored?

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

Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:28 PM (Answer #1)

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If we look at this story, we can see that Chopin clearly believed that women were deserving of more freedom than the contemporary society of her day actually gave them. This is principally shown in the way that the adulterous liaison of Calixta and Alcee is presented as something beautiful and almost mystical and the way in which both marriages are shown to have benefited from this brief act of infidelity.

The sensuality of the union between Calixta and Alcee made it far to risque to be printed during Chopin's lifetime. Consider the following passage:

When he touched her breasts they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain of delight. And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life's mystery.

The almost mystical way in which this sexual union is described challenges the norms of Chopin's day because this illicit affair is not frowned upon. This relationship is described as being essentially good and pleasing. This is an impression that is further reinforced by Calixta's attitude towards her husband and sun after the storm of passion and rain that has swept through the lives of the characters. Note how the family are described later on that day:

Bobinot and Bibi began to relax and enjoy themselves, and when the three seated themselves at table they laughed much and so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballiere's.

Let us put these two quotes together then. Chopin is clearly arguing against the narrow social roles of women in their marriages. By presenting Calixta as being both pleasured and pleased by her adultery and then the way that this actually helps her marriage, Chopin is protesting against the forced fidelity that she believes can be so harmful to humans. Repressing our feelings and trying to ignore them can only harm us, and it is better for everyone if we are able to break free from the roles that marriage and society enforce on us and can express our feelings as our bodies dictate. Chopin therefore believed that women were worthy of and deserved a much higher level of freedom than society gave them at this time.

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