24 July 2013
Desiree: A Symbol for Victorian Woman
Gender roles were very much defined in the Victorian era and there was not much room open to interpretation. Men and women both had clear roles in society and very rarely did any gender step outside that position within the social hierarchy. These roles were defined by the sex and color of a person. Kate Chopin exemplifies these roles very accurately within her story, Desiree’s Baby. In the short fiction story, Desiree’s Baby, the author Kate Chopin incorporates many motifs, symbols, and imagery to describe gender assumptions and racial roles for both men and women in the 1800s by narrating the story of an adopted mother named Desiree, with no known lineage, and her prideful husband Armand. The most notable literary devices Chopin incorporates to convey her message about these well defined roles of society are symbolism and imagery through color. Chopin clearly conveys her message that women and people of a darker race were looked down upon and did not have much room in society as opposed to the white men. Symbolism is filled throughout this story, and starts right from the beginning with the defining of a woman’s place in society. Desiree’s adoptive father “had found her lying asleep in the shadow of the big stone pillar” when he first saw her (Chopin 242). The stone pillar is a representation of man and his manhood. In the Victorian era, “[m]en, controlled by their mind or intellectual strength, were allowed to dominate society, to be the governing sex, given that they were viewed as rational, brave, and independent” (Historical Analysis). This rendered no other place for women, who “on the other hand, were dominated by their sexuality, and were expected to fall silently into the social mold crafted by men, since they were regarded as irrational, sensitive, and dutiful” (Historical Analysis). The fact that Desiree is found underneath the shadow of a...
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Chopin, Kate. Desiree 's Baby. Literature and the Writing Process. By Elizabeth McMahan. Boston: Longman, 2011. N. pag. Print.
"Historical Analysis: Women as the "the Sex" During TheVictorian Era." Historical Analysis: Women as the "the Sex" During TheVictorian Era. WebPace, n.d. Web. 24 July 2013. <http://webpage.pace.edu/nreagin/tempmotherhood/fall2003/3/HisPage.html>.
Ziegenfuss, Jen. "Marriage in the Victorian Era." Marriage in the Victorian Era. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2013. <http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/agunn/teaching/enl3251/vf/pres/ziegenfuss.htm>.
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