The Oppressive Qualities of Society
Society’s oppressive nature greatly affects the lives of the people within it, and the expectations society sets for its citizens drive people to strive for acceptance from their peers. In “A Respectable Woman,” Mrs. Baroda, a young wife, who tries diligently to welcome her husband’s friend Gouvernail into their society, becomes enthralled with him, facing temptation that would be viewed with trepidation. Similarly, in “A Shameful Affair,” Mildred, a repressed young woman, enticed by a farmhand, faces temptation and forced to fight her personal desires because of society’s restriction based on class hierarchy. In “The Kiss,” a woman sets aside her personal desire for the image she believes society desires the most in a marriage. In her short stories, Kate Chopin illustrates contrasting imagery and intense and tempting diction to convey that society dictates people’s decisions because people worry about their portrayal in society and are forced to concede their personal desires. Society’s expectations tend to reflect an ideal role, and because of this expectation society’s restrictions bind people because of their fear of an unjust portrayal in it. Society expects women to act as loving and caring mothers devoted to their children while their husband. For example, “A Respectable Woman,” when Mrs. Baroda welcomes her husband’s friend Gouvernail, she “imposed her society upon him . . . she persistently sought to penetrate the reserve in which he had unconsciously enveloped himself” (213). Chopin’s use of intense diction such as “imposed” which denotes a forcibly placed restriction, and “persistently” which denotes a tenacious behavior despite of initial opposition, suggests society’s strict expectation for woman to gracefully welcome others in their society by imposing those expected ideals on other people. Mrs. Borada’s diligence in welcoming Gouvernail becomes an infatuation when she becomes entranced by his stoic behavior...
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