Leitmotif of Women Empowerment in Kate Chopin’s Works


Kate Chopin was a well-known American novelist and short story writer who was born in the late 1800s. She is considered one of the founders of feminist ideas. Even though at the end of the nineteenth century, this movement was only in a state of formation and was widely condemned by the male population, the plots of her stories and novels began to enjoy wide popularity in the second half of the twentieth century. In her works, Keith understands the issues of women’s emancipation in a hostile environment against them. Her books’ central characters are strong women who manage to go through difficulties and can independently decide their destiny. This paper will address three issues:

  • Discover women’s role in the Early Ages;
  • Study the literature basis for the feminism movement;
  • Find similarities in Kate Chopin’s story characters;

Text Analysis

For this study, two short stories to be compared were chosen Desiree’s Baby and The Story of an Hour.

As in most of Kate Chopin’s works, these stories reveal the central leitmotif: the main theme of the pieces is the idea of women empowerment and emancipation. The writer tells the narrative and makes extensive use of symbolism to reveal characters. With her literary style, Chopin seems to be able to combine many unrelated little stories into one big account. This effect is achieved by using common elements that appear in both texts, which will be discussed further. It should be noted that the symbols and features described in this report appear in almost each of her works.

How Society Treats Women

The first question to be answered in Kate Chopin’s analytical work is how society treats women. The society in this context means only the male population because women were incredibly limited in their rights until the first half of the twentieth century. It should be noted that it was not until 1920 that such a thing as women’s suffrage became available in America. First, people expect women to always be happy. In Kate Chopin’s stories, men can commit any, even dishonorable deeds. Despite this, their authority is never discussed, and from women, they expect only obedience and respect in their direction. Second, society views women only as a support system. The experiences of female characters, their problems, and fears are of little concern to their environment. As a result, women stop suppressing themselves. They realize that they can stop tormenting themselves and live with the worries of their husbands and decide their own destiny.

Women’s Ability to Forgive

The second characteristic feature of Kate Chopin’s literary images is the ability of women to forgive. In world culture and especially in the Christian religion, the female image has always been associated with kindness and forgiveness. However, there is one significant difference. If in Christianity, the appearance of a pure heart and righteous thoughts belongs to the Virgin Mary, one of the most revered saints, these qualities are possessed by mere mortal women in Kate Chopin’s stories. From this, change begins, and women start to feel like they can act through their rights. As shown in the previous slide, society perceives women exclusively as a supportive element. Both the characters in “Desiree’s Baby” and “The Story of the Hour” are ready to support their husbands, even though the latter often treat the former as property or a trophy.

Control Instead of Help

Another characteristic feature of Kate Chopin’s stories is the pattern of male behavior in which they indicate women how to live. Female characters do not have the opportunity to choose independently; they can only follow the man’s words and suppress inner pain and contradictions. In the history and culture of almost every country in the world, women are treated as second-class citizens: men run their households and homes, make decisions on their own, compete and move towards their own goals and dreams. Women in this context are more vulnerable – their man will show love and attention to them. However, this does not always happen, which is demonstrated in the writer’s literary works. Women’s expectations turn out to be unjustified, and the characters have to fight for freedom, breaking the usual social foundations and stereotypes. The feeling of injustice overwhelms them, and they have to learn to live without men, despite the desire to remain loving and loved.


The topic of feminism is extremely relevant in modern society. The world community pays much attention to women’s rights, which are still not respected everywhere, and women are forced to live in conditions of inequality. Indeed, everyone in this audience has their own opinion on the score.


Chopin, K. (2014a). Desiree’s Baby. Createspace Independent Pub.

Chopin, K. (2014). The Story Of An Hour: Short Story. HarperPerennial Classics.

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