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Essay Samples > Literary Analysis > Kate Chopin
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Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin was a writer who did not receive much appreciation during her time. This was due to the fact that her work was basically written concerning the sexuality and roles of women in the contemporary world. This is for instance displayed in her two short stories "Desiree's Baby" and "The Story of an Hour".  Whilst the two short stories have a number of similarities, there are quite a number of differences and some parallels from the personal life of the author. A careful look into the themes and settings of both stories together with the biographical information of Chopin are portrayed in this. Thus, this essay seeks to compare and contrast these two short stories as written by Chopin in that age.

The real settings of "Desiree's Baby" and "The story of an hour" are the first instance in which the stories begin to differ. In "The story of an hour', the whole piece happens in Mrs. Mallard's homestead and the scenery adjoining the homestead. The outside scenery plays a very imperative role to the whole of the story, paralleling the emerging spring with the new found freedom for Mallard. The inside of the house on the other hand is not very important to the main role and not even exhibiting the room Mrs. Mallard occupied when she was informed about the passing of her husband. In "Desiree's Baby", the major factors in the entire setting comprise Louisiana Bayou, Valmonde mansion gates and L'Abri, a bigger group of settings compared to "The Story of an Hour".In "Desiree's Baby", one of the settings is described very clearly and many of the happenings in the story take place and that is in L'Abri (Mayer, 94-104).

While the two stories do not have a common setting, the similarities are that there is an obscure background having a major setting which parallels the major character in a way. This in some way could be for the reasons that Chopin wanted to create her own style of writing. Moreover, the storyline of the two protagonists Desiree and Mrs. Mallard got a lot of benefits from centering on one major setting.  This is more so because the setting was the main factor of conflict in the lives of the characters.

In a similar manner, the settings had similar differences and likenesses, the theme and the plot of the stories do have such. . The plots of "Desiree's Baby" and "The Story of an Hour" clearly have some differences in many parts. In "The Story of an Hour", the plot is based on a woman who realizes that the husband is dead and later after shock, she becomes free tp ultimately carry on with her life. All the same, after she has eventually come to terms with the events and determined to the new life, the husband comes in and she is shocked to death and a pre-existing condition of heart (Chopin 77-79).

In "Desiree's Baby", the short story is about Desiree who is a female also. As a young child, Desiree was abandoned and taken in by the Valmondes; however she fell in love with a wealthy plantation owner called Armand (Henderson et al 328-332). The later bear a child who is later found to have an African American heritage.  Armand accuses Desiree of having the African American genes. Later on Desiree commits suicide and goes ahead to kill the baby only the story to turn out that Armand was indeed the one with African Heritage (Chopin, 1-5).

The two plots as discussed above do not appear to share common things at first glance. However the stories have some description of the relationship women have with their husbands. The women in the stories adore their husbands but the levels of relationships are not equal. The women are regarded as possessions in both stories. The thoughts on Mrs. Mallard were that "There would be no powerful will bending her." She felt controlled just whilst Desiree did not appear to be caring concerning the controlling nature of Armand as it is written "When he frowned she trembled, but loved him" (Chopin, 2). Therefore, the plots are different in the fact that one woman relishes the husband loss while the other who feared the husband's leave goes ahead to commit murder.

The themes are however similar in the sense that they are based in "women search of themselves". Mrs. Mallard can see her life start after the husband dies..."Free! Body and soul free!" (Chopin, 79). Desiree also finds her self out through Valmonde until she finally finds identity with Armand. Therefore, whilst "The Story of an Hour" and "Desiree's Baby" is different, they do share a number of similarities. This is mainly in the overall theme of women finding themselves out. One of the major differences is the manner in which the women have traveled the way of discovering themselves and the results. This could have majorly been influenced by the life and marriage of the writer, Chopin (Mayer 94-104).

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