Short Story "The Storm" Analysis
The Storm is a short story, which was written by Kate Chopin, an American novelist of the second half of the nineteenth century. Although created in 1898, the story was not published for sixty years due to the theme of the writing and its verbal actualization, which were considered audacious and obscene in those times. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the story incorporates the nineteenth-century realia, its thematic spectrum is still relevant for the present-day world because the paradigm of human relationship did not meet fundamental changes. Hence, marriage and adultery, which are the dominant themes in the story, are equally significant in the literature regardless of the time period due to the fact of permanent existence of these phenomena in the society. Hence, the thematic complex of the story can be paralleled to the leading idea of the contemporary movie Fur, which illustrates the topicality of marriage and adultery themes in the modern society.
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Kate Chopins story introduces a typical family environment, which is disrupted by the storm on two levels, the literal and the symbolic. On the plot level, the storm creates a condition for theme development by preventing Bobinot and Bibi from coming home, as well as by allowing Alcee to intervene into the personal space of the female protagonist. Likewise, the storm pushes Calixta and her guest together, giving an impulse to their secret passion realization. At the same time, the storm is a key symbol in the story, which also demonstrates the emotional range between Calixta and Alcee that possesses similar controversial connotation. Therefore, the storm as a weather condition possesses an ambivalent effect due to its equal capability of destroying objects and giving a spark of life to the exhausted land. Apart from that, the emergence and the intensification of a storm corresponds to the plot structure, where the first signs of the tempest refer to the exposition, the on-coming of the storm is paralleled to the rising action, the outburst is associated with the climax, the termination of the tempest is related to the falling action and the establishment of the good weather is linked to the denouement. Ergo, due to the analogy between the storm and the theme of adultery, introduced in the story, the plot structure demonstrates the peculiarities of theme disclosure on each stage, occasionally incorporating specific plot organization techniques.
The family as a social phenomenon can be interpreted as the core of the story, whereas family environment and conflict are positioned on the periphery. Traditionally, the nature of human relationships has always been governed by a mating principle. Plenty of historical evidences suggest that people created pairs even on the early stages of development of Homo sapiens. Having originated in accordance with the laws of survival, the tendency of creating a couple has evolved together with the development of human emotional sphere, adopting new functions and new social meaning. Finally, the notion of marriage has become an utmost form of mutual devotion, which was idealized as the sanctity after the spiritual component has become an integral part of human worldview. Hence, the adoption of faith as a governing factor in peoples life was accompanied by the appearance of the notion of faithfulness. As a result, violation of marriage vows was often approximated to the violation of religious dogmas. Nonetheless, in reality the described social scheme possessed a utopian character and thus could not be implemented completely. The primeval, the beastly aspect of human existence was never tamed by spiritual principles. As a result, the notion of adultery has existed as long as the concept of the family itself.
The movie Fur was released in 2006, simultaneously receiving a controversial feedback, stipulated by the spectrum of social problems the movie touched upon. Although the action takes place in the beginning of the twentieth century, the method of the actualization of the theme, along with the directors perspective correspond to the current epoch. The film concentrates on the life of Diane Arbus, a married well-off woman with two children, whose life becomes inverted when she meets Lionel, an eccentric man, who suffers from hypertrichosis a pathology, which stipulates the excessive face and body hair growth. As a result, the stable and seemingly trouble-free family environment becomes disrupted when Diane falls in love and cheats on her husband with Lionel, who does not repulse her despite his deformity.
At the first sight, the story and the movie seem to have little in common; the obvious theme of adultery appears to be the only thing shared by these narratives. Nonetheless, a thorough analysis reveals a series of smaller details that create an obscure parallel, which is equally appropriate in both cases. Historically, female act of adultery has been animadverted in a more severe way than that performed by a man. The latter is traditionally explained by the polygamous nature of a man, which is conditioned by the primal purpose of sustaining human population. Whereas the social environment has changed, the biology is hard to subdue. Thus, given the lack of biological excuse, female infidelity is regarded as an act of betrayal that can hardly be forgiven.
Similar to Calixta, Diane was motivated by passion, which she finally yielded to. Moreover, both women are immersed into the conventional mundane environment, which seems to be their primary occupation. Hence, the monotony of daily life and recurrent family emotions, which after several years of marriage lose its initial exceptionality, create a background for the act of cheating. Therefore, unacceptable womens actions may be, they can still be logically assessed. In this case, adultery can be interpreted as an act of rebellion against the established patriarchal order that dictates womans position as a domestic goddess, coincidently limiting her freedom of choice and self-expression.
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The contemporary psychological paradigm suggests that women rarely cheat out of a biological urge. Instead, their infidelity is a product of sustainable dissatisfaction rather than contingency. Ergo, female adultery signals the existence of a family disorder, either emotional or physical. The condition is typically aggravated by the appearance of children. Therefore, it can be presumed that both Diane and Calixta are not satisfied with their sexual life, which makes them search for pleasure outside their families. The only difference is that Diane is not acquainted with the object of her passion, whereas Calixta and Alcee have a romantic history, which does not meet the desirable outcome due to the puritan morals of the epoch. The latter can be understood from Alcees flashback, in which he describes the woman as an immaculate dove (Chopin). Hence, in Calixtas case, her actions can be symbolically interpreted as completion of a program, which was not aborted but merely paused.
Nonetheless, despite the dissimilarity of the circumstances in which the women cheat on their husbands, the motivation is similar. The sexual distance between Diane and her husband can be explicitly observed when he refuses to become intimate with her. Likewise, the kiss on the cheek Calixta gives her husband upon his arrival contrasts with the way she kissed Alcee before, indicating their emotional rather than physical closeness. Apart from that, the bedroom setting introduced by Kate Chopin includes Bibis couch alongside Calixtas bed, which symbolizes the sacrifice of Bobinots and Calixtas intimacy for the sake of their child. Although voluntary, the decision inevitably leads to the womans implicit reservation, which finds its way to the realization with Alcee. Apart from that, in both cases women are aware of the wrongfulness of their actions. The latter can be proven in the story by the part in the text in which Calixta and Alcee feel drowsiness after the storm has passed, and still they manage to stay awake out of fear to be caught. Similarly, Diane experiences moral excruciation due to her actions, constantly being immersed into the process of soul-searching. Nonetheless, unlike Diane, who suffers from depression caused by her double life, Calixta appears to realize that her actions are sporadic, and thus, they have little chance of reoccurring in the future due to the fact that the passion for Alcee, which has resided in her soul for years is finally released. Hence, the cycle has come to a logical end.
Apart from the above mentioned, the theme of infidelity is accompanied by the concept of forbidden love, which can be interpreted as another motivating impulse to yield to the temptation. In fact, it is generally accepted that prohibiting a certain action consequently leads to the upsurge of the desire to experience it. Thus, breaking the code of ethics symbolically increases the sensory acuity, resulting in the growth of pleasure received from performing a restricted action.
However, in both cases adultery did not lead to the destruction of the relationship. Instead, it can be interpreted as a new lease of life, which subsequently resulted in the intensification of the emotional atmosphere between marriage partners. Hence, the romantic intrigue appears to have provided Calixta with stamina, necessary for the fulfillment of her family role. At the same time, Dianes behavior has led to her husbands soul-searching, which has resulted in the improvement of their relationship.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the theme of infidelity in marriage is central not only to literature, but to human psychology in general. In fact, Kate Chopin believed that the phenomenon of faithfulness was an anachronism that exhausted marriage, whereas occasional romantic experience with other people is healthy for both men and women. Hence, in her opinion it symbolically corresponds to the military augmentation, strengthening marriage partners and stimulating their interest to one another. Consequently, given the fact that the phenomenon of adultery has a long history of existence, it can be assumed that the aforesaid theme will stay highlighted in the literature of the future generations for as long as the concept of the family remains unchanged.