Kate Chopin

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By contrasting the room's "deep shadow" with the daylight that still exists outside the house, the first paragraph of "The Kiss" establishes a dark, intimate atmosphere while implying the presence of secrets and illicit emotions. This imagery thus foreshadows the revelation that Nathalie is plotting to marry the good-natured but unattractive and rather foolish Brantain while maintaining an affair with Mr. Harvy. Brantain's character is reminiscent of several other men in Kate Chopin's stories, such as Brently Mallard in "The Story of an Hour" and Gaston Baroda in "A Respectable Woman," in that Brantain is portrayed as a well-meaning and not dislikable man who loves his eventual wife but who fails to be desirable to her. Yet, we tend to feel little or no sympathy for the man because Chopin tells the story through the eyes of the female protagonist, who has her own aims. Unlike most of the heroines of Chopin's stories, Nathalie does not face any emotional trials or true mental conflict. Instead, she acts as a woman who has already realized her potential and ability to satisfy her desires and who now tries to adjust the actions of those around her in order to suit her wishes. In a way, Nathalie takes the hidden motivations of Chopin's protagonists and takes them to an unpalatable extreme, since Nathalie here is portrayed as having a calculating, imperious nature. Even so, Chopin portrays Nathalie sympathetically in that we come to applaud her skill in turning bad luck into a coup de grace; what initially appears to be the destruction of her carefully arranged engagement turns into an opportunity to carry on her affair right in front of her husband. Later, when Harvy ironically fails to become one of her pawns, she shows her practical side and acknowledges her defeat, not only without rancor but even with an almost amused, philosophic resignation. Nathalie's machinations juxtapose Harvy with Brantain, who in his uncomplicated...
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