In his splendid essay on Chopin’s “The Storm,” Robert Wilson says “the “The Storm” maybe interpreted as a “commentary on society’s view of feminine sexuality” and “specific affirmation of feminine sexuality and passion with a condemnation of its repression by the constraints of society.” Do you agree/disagree? In a well-developed essay, comment on this view.
I think that Wilson's point about feminine sexuality lying at the heart of "The Storm" as a story and symbol is relevant. Wilson suggests "Chopin’s title refers to nature, which is symbolically feminine; the storm can therefore be seen as symbolic of feminine sexuality and passion, and the image of the storm will be returned to again and again throughout the story." In this light, "the storm" is symbol of feminine passion and sexual identity. However, I think that that one could broaden it to symbolize an experience for anyone who feels constrained from experiencing emotional and sensual reality.
Wilson's point about how "the storm" is reflective of Calixta's condition is evident. She lives in a world and in a marriage where the sensual passion of her past is absent. Wilson argues that "her sexuality is repressed by the constraints of her marriage and society’s view of women, represented in this passage by the housework." This is seen in how immersed Calixta is in her chores, unaware that the storm is coming, something evident in both the physical condition of the storm and her own repressed sensual experiences.
As both Alcee and the storm move closer to Calista, her own feminine sexual experiences move to the forefront of her reality: "But she felt very warm and often stopped to mop her face on which the perspiration gathered in beads. She unfastened her white sacque at the throat." This description reflects Wilson's point regarding her repressed sexuality.
However, I think that one could broaden Wilson's experience of repression to include Alcee, as well. He has repressed his own sexual longing for Calixta. With the coming of the storm, his own sensual experience is validated: "Alcée clasped her shoulders and looked into her face. The contact of her warm, palpitating body when he had unthinkingly drawn her into his arms, had aroused all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh." Chopin's language reflects Wilson's notion of sexual repression in Alcee's world, illuminated with imagery such as "around all the old- time infatuation" and the mere "contact." Additionally, when they both remember what happened in Assumption, a shared experience where repression is lifted as the storm breaks becomes evident:
Oh! she remembered; for in Assumption he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her; until his senses would well nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to a desperate flight. If she was not an immaculate dove in those days, she was still inviolate; a passionate creature whose very defenselessness had made her defense, against which his honor forbade him to prevail. Now – well, now – her lips seemed in a manner free to be tasted, as well as her round, white throat and her whiter breasts.
The experience of "tasting" is one that both of them believe has been denied to them for so long. This sensual reality is one that both of them will share. It reinforces a sexuality and passion that is both feminine and masculine. Both Calixta and Alcee recognize the intensity of "the storm" that is both outside of them and within them.