Feminism and Kate Chopin’s The Storm

Louis, Missouri, all of whom were women of determination and intellect. This probably pointed her towards the path of feminism. Chopin lived and wrote her impressive repertoire of short stories in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the still patriarchal society revolved around the firmly rooted tenet that the ultimate goal of a fulfilled woman’s life was to be the ideal wife and mother and to adhere to the glorified virtues of submission and sacrifice. The feminist movement was very much in its’ nascent stages and centered round the demand for equal rights for women in the legal, political and educational spheres. Even before these issues could be resolved, Chopin’s stories delved into the complex threads of a woman’s life, including love, marriage, sex, women’s alcoholism, motherhood and autonomy. She was “a pioneer in her own time, in her portrayal of women’s desires for independence and control of their own sexuality” (Emily Toth, cited in Kate Chopin, n.d.). The concept of freedom for women, let alone their freedom to explore their own sexuality, was far beyond the comprehension of that age. Chopin wrote ‘The Storm,’ in 1898 but, perhaps anticipating a ‘storm’ of protest and condemnation, the story was published only after her death. In this portrayal of a woman’s extramarital affair, beautifully orchestrated to match the cadences of the storm raging outside, Chopin boldly asserts a woman’s freedom to explore and delight in her own sexuality, to participate in the sexual act as an equal partner and to fearlessly adhere to the same standards of sexual morality as a man.
‘The Storm’ begins its’ depiction of its’ protagonist, Calixta, as a woman who conforms to the mother and wife stereotype of that period. Her life, confined within the four walls of her house, is apparently quite satisfactorily filled with domestic chores like sewing and the laundry. She