Kate Chopin: Woman Before Her Time

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Kate Chopin: Woman Before her Time

“Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer; than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” These are some famous words of a woman ahead of her time, Kate Chopin. Kate wrote many stories about women and their sexual appetites and cravings for independence, which made her stories taboo during her time. Her stories focused mainly on the lives of sensitive, intelligent women. She simply wrote life as she saw it. According to her website, she wrote two published novels and over one hundred short stories during the 1890’s.

As a young child, Kate experienced many deaths and tragic events. Starting with her fathers death when she was five, great grandmother and brother George when she was twelve, followed by her first teachers death, her brother passing, her best friend moved away and the German soldiers raided their home. No one knows for sure if Kate Chopin was sexual abused by the German soldiers but many believe, because of her withdrawn personality, that she was an adolescent viaticum of abuse. Was Kate Chopin sexually abused as a child? If so, is this why she views relationship and marriage the way she expressed in her stories?

Kate Chopin tended to write about topics that were not expressed freely during the 19th century. She would write about things such as; women's search for selfhood, for self-discovery or identity, women's revolt against gender conformity or against social norms that limit women's possibilities in life, women's sexual appetite and appetite for independence. She is one of the earliest examples of modernism in the United States. Kate never intended for her work to be taboo to society during her time but she simply wrote about life as she saw it. She also viewed freedom differently than the rest of society at the time. To her freedom was a matter of spirit, soul, character of living your life within the constraints that the world makes/ your God offers you. Although Kate was looked down upon for her topics of writing, she is celebrated and acclaimed by the many people around the world today.

Kate Chopin was born of an Irish and French descent in St. Louis, Missouri. She was blessed by having many female mentors in her childhood. She grew up primarily raised in a home ran by women, either independently strong widows of her family or the intellectual nuns of her school. These women taught Kate to live a “life of the mind as well as a life of the home”. He father was a very successful businessman and was busy traveling around for work. In 1855, he was one of the founders of the Pacific Railroad and was aboard the inaugural journey over the Gasconade Bridge. The Bridge collapsed and many of the passengers were killed, including Kate’s father. Kate’s mother, Eliza, was only twenty-seven years old at the news of her fifty-year-old husbands death. Some suggest that this is where Kate’s Story of an Hour came from. After her fathers death Kate became very close with her great grandmother, Madame Charlesville, who was a member of the prominent French-Creole community. Madame Charlesville was very influential in Kate's life. She taught Kate many things such as; Lives of women, how women are torn between duty and desire, not to judge people rashly, but to face truths fearlessly but the great lesson she taught Kate was that a woman had to be independent. She also taught Kate about music, history, speaking French and stressed the need to live life clearly and fearlessly. Not only did Kate live life clearly, she also expressed it clearly in her stories. Kate married Oscar Chopin June 9th, 1870, birthed five boys and one girl. Fourteen years after there marriage Kate experienced yet another death, her husband Oscar passed on. A lot like her childhood, Kate then took on the responsibilities of the household. After figuring the families finances, Oscar left Kate and the children with $12,000 of debt. Kate eventually moved back home with her mother who...
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