Individual Identity vs. Social Expectations: Gender, Choice, and Change in Kate Chopin’s Short Fiction Cover Image
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Individual Identity vs. Social Expectations: Gender, Choice, and Change in Kate Chopin’s Short Fiction
Individual Identity vs. Social Expectations: Gender, Choice, and Change in Kate Chopin’s Short Fiction

Author(s): ANCA-LUMINIŢA IANCU
Subject(s): Gender Studies, Short Story
Published by: Editura Universitatii LUCIAN BLAGA din Sibiu
Keywords: Kate Chopin; short fiction; individual identity; social expectations; gender; choice; change; agency;

Summary/Abstract: Since the second half of the twentieth century, Kate Chopin has been hailed by modern critics as a woman writer “far ahead of her time” (the end of the nineteenth century). In her discussion of Chopin as an important forerunner of modernism, Avril Horner points out that “Both in style and content, Chopin anticipates modernism. Kate Chopin’s subtle use of irony and her emphasis on choice combine to mark the dawn of modernism in a particularly interesting way” (145). In many of her short stories and novels, Chopin depicted the tension between the female characters’ individual needs and the social expectations. Although many of her protagonists seem to abide by the traditional gender roles imposed on them by society, they also transgress them in subtle ways, thereby prompting a change in their perceptions of themselves as women with individual identities. This essay focuses on the young female protagonists of the short stories “A Shameful Affair,” “The Kiss,” and “The Unexpected,” who, in the process of discovering their own agency in choosing a potential husband, attempt to question or challenge the prescribed societal conventions and gender expectations.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 89-108
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: English