Kate Chopin was born on the 8th of February in 1850, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. She was an intelligent daughter of Thomas O’Flaherty, a successful businessman, while her mother, Eliza Faris, was of French descent. She was the third child of her family. Unfortunately, her elder brothers and sisters who died quite early. She learned reading and writing at home. Since childhood, she was an ardent reader; she loved reading poetry, fairy tales, religious allegories, and classic writings.
Although Kate Chopin’s home proved to be her first educational institution, her formal education started at the age of five from Sacred Heart Academy, where she learned management and critical decision-making skills. After her father’s death, she was home-tutored by her great-grandmother, who taught her history, music, French, and basics rules of leading a successful life. She later joined the convent in St. Louis from where she graduated in 1868.
Personal Life and Tragedy
Kate Chopin married Oscar Chopin on the 8th of June in 1870 and settled in New Orleans. The couple had had three children. The family spent priceless years but a tragic shift altered their life for good. In 1879, the family suffered a great financial which forced them to move to Cloutierville, setting up a small business to meet the daily expenses. Unfortunately, Oscar Chopin’s sudden death and her mother’s death added more grief. To help her to pull her up out of depression, her family friend, Dr. Frederick Kolbenheyer suggested she spend her time in writing. Hence, she seriously started making efforts. Today the world recognizes her as one of the best writers of American history.
Some Important Facts of Her Life
- She took inspiration from the French writer, Guy De Maupassant.
- Her second novel, The Awakening, is considered one of the initial feminist works of American literature.
- Her works have been translated into a number of languages including Albanian, Arabic, Malayalam, Polish, Turkish, and Vietnamese.
Kate Chopin started her literary career with the publication of her first story in St. Louis Post-Dispatch. By the 1880s she emerged as a successful literary writer, contributing various articles and stories to different newspapers and literary journals including “A No-Account Creole”, “A Point at Issue!” and “Beyond the Bayou.” Later, in 1980, she talked about the sexual constraints of women in her first novel, A Fault. In the following years, she wrote: “Ripe Figs”, “Désirée’s Baby”, “At the ‘Cadian Ball” followed by other notable short stories. Her classics of feminist fiction, The Awakening, was published in 1989. However, at that time, it invited so much heavy criticism that it faced an immediate ban. In fact, the novel explored the moral infidelity of that time which took the social circles by storm. Her other pieces include “An No-Account Creole”, “A Respectable Woman”, “A Pair of Silk Stocking” and “The Storm.”
After establishing her career as a writer, Kate Chopin earned quick success though it might seem negative at first when The Awakening was banned. However, as time went by, she gained immense popularity on account of her thoughtful feministic ideas and unconventional style. Using an emancipating style, she shined a light on certain perspectives followed by her female characters, echoing their rebellious attitudes. In fact, her writings present a perfect blend of humorous situations, romanticism, and seriousness. She never deals with fanciful subjects and unnecessary details in her pieces. Instead, she prefers focusing on the morals of the society of her time. Marked with the use of realism and symbolism, her works constantly engage and attract her readers. Also, her works deal with the subject of equality; she demands equality for women as to her they are also humans and deserve to enjoy the same rights as men do. She intentionally used this distinctive style to separate herself from other writers. The recurring thematic strands in most of the writings are feminism, equality, and morality. Regarding literary devices, she often turned to metaphors, imagery, and similes to create a unique style.
Some Important Works of Kate Chopin
- Best Works: Some of her best works include “Bayou Folk”, “At the Cadian Ball”, “The Story of an Hour”, “The Locket”, “The Unexpected”, “Madame Célestin’s Divorce”, “The Story of an Hour” and The Awakening.
Kate Chopin’s Importance in Future Literature
Despite facing troubles in life, Kate Chopin emerged as a great literary persona. Her unique writing style and literary qualities of her masterpieces brought praiseworthy changes in the world of literature. She had a significant influence on a diverse range of writers and critics. After her demise, some credited her as a pioneer of the feminist movement, though, she never secured any recognition for her works. She expressed her thoughts and ideas in her literary pieces in such an ambivalent manner that various writers envy her style.
- “There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.” (The Awakening)
- “But the beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing. How few of us ever emerge from such beginning! How many souls perish in its tumult! The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, and inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”
- She turned her face seaward to gather in an impression of space and solitude, which the vast expanse of water, meeting and melting with the moonlit sky, conveyed to her excited fancy. As she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself.”