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Chopin’s stories often depict women who are trapped by gender role expectations and pressured to conform to societal norms. In these instances, all three characters - Calixta (“The Storm”), Louise (“The Story of an Hour”) and Desiree (“Desiree’s Baby”) – are each married. However, only Desiree truly loves her husband.
Calixta demonstrates (through her passionate act with Alcee) that her commitment to her marriage is brittle and weak. Though her remarks do not betray contempt for her marital union, her spontaneous and lustful reaction to Alcee’s advances suggests that she feels less than fulfilled within her marriage. When her husband returns following the storm, she easily falls into what seems to be a monotonous routine.
The character of Louise Mallard is also dissatisfied with her marital arrangement. According to the text, she “did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance.” Rather, she immediately gave way to tears, crying and sobbing in her sister’s arms. Her tears flow rapidly and abundantly. Then, they are gone. Louise goes upstairs to her room and tries to resist feelings that seem to overpower her. She attempts to halt a feeling of freedom and to suppress her joy at being released from an unfulfilling marriage. Finally, she acknowledges her joy and her husband returns. She drops dead from the shock, demonstrating that she was so discontented with her marriage that the realization that she was still bound to her husband was so disappointing that it killed her.
Desiree Valmonde married Armand Aubigny because she loved him entirely. Her first desire was to please her husband and she was certain that she succeeded when she gave him a son. She felt that her good marriage was bettered by the presence of her child. She was content to be loved by a husband whom she adored. Unfortunately, when Armand began to change for the worse, neglecting and avoiding her and her marriage began to fall apart. When he accusingly suggests that she is not white and openly shows his disgust for her, she still holds out the hope that her love will soothe and conquer his disquietude. Instead, he rejects her and she lovingly leaves her home to appease him. Her love for Armand was strong enough to endure heartbreak, sacrifice and shame.
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