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20100121-930 Chopin and Realism (Group 2)

Page history last edited by Dean McCombs 10 years, 6 months ago

Summary

After the railroad, the most influential inventions are the photograph, telegraph, phonograph, and cinematograph, all of which capture an event in real time. These new analog technologies were a catalyst for the literary movement realism, and its subdivision regionalism.  Authors became interested in capturing life as it was by using local dialect and landscape, and placing an emphasis on the mundane elements of everyday life.

 

In his "The Art of Fiction," prominent realist Henry James claims that writing a good novel employs personal experience and an acute sense of reality.  He establishes that realism literaturecan go deeper than the surface and give a psychologically accurate portrait.  In Daisy Miller: A Study, James gives a psychological portrait, while also commenting on social distinctions, such as what defines an American.  We questioned if Daisy Miller is a tragedy; most of the class said no because she does not evoke enough sympathy. 

 

Kate Chopin's "The Storm" explicitly describes adultery committed by Calixta, while her husband and son were detained by a storm. "The Storm" took around 70 years to become published; the content proved to be too much for the society of the time period. The affair between Calixta and Alcee is unique in that Alcee doesn't directly pursue Calixta, but is instead drawn to her uncontrollably by contact with her body. It is interesting that she is sexually enticing to him because she is married and not a virgin. He ironically claims that she is "free to be tasted."  In the end, the lovers are not caught and there is contentment; Calixta embraces her family as they return from the storm, while Alcee writes to his wife, telling her it is alright if she extends her vacation, which she is happy to do, for temporary freedom of sexual obligations to her husband.

Word Count: 300

 

Passages

"So the storm passed and every one was happy." -p. 534. The last line of "The Storm" contains a great deal of irony. Society tells us that adultery should not make people happy because it is breaking the rules. In addition, the happiness is created by both women, Calixta and Alcee's wife, Clarisse, being in control of their own sexuality, which is a completely different portrayal of women at that time.

 

"Her firm elastic flesh that was for the first time knowing its birthright...."- p. 533. This line explicitly embraces women's sexuality, and makes it clear that Calixta was meant to experience sexual pleasure. Chopin is describing a new kind of sexually liberated woman who reflects women who were working for liberation in many facets of life at this time, such as suffrage rights, property rights, and birth control use.

 

Key Terms

Realism: a literary movement characterized by a fascination with surfaces, everyday life, dull details, representative characters, emphasis on artistic impartiality 

Tragic Hero: a character in a story who is destined for a downfall; usually characterized as having a tragic flaw, traditionally called "hubris" that brings about the destruction. (Is Daisy Miller a tragic hero?)

 

Comments (4)

Jessie Morgan said

at 1:12 am on Jan 25, 2010

Group, I feel like we definitely need to discuss some important elements of "The Storm" since we spent so much of class time on it. I started with that last sentence, but we need to cut some of the realism stuff to control the word count. Whoever started did a good job of covering all the bases on realism and the technology of the time, but we will have to decide what is unnecessary so we can add some more about "The Storm" and stay under word count

Teresa McClernon said

at 4:10 pm on Jan 25, 2010

I trimmed the summary down - we're still over but only by 25 words. I talked with Dr. Croxall and he said that our focus can be mostly on "The Storm" since that's what we spent the majority of class discussing, that we don't have to worry about the title of the page.

Brian Croxall said

at 5:41 pm on Jan 28, 2010

This is a very good first set of notes for the class. The first two paragraphs of the summary are very clear, and you don't get bogged down on trying to squeeze in any of the myriad details about the different technologies that I was lobbing at you during class. I think the paragraph on "The Storm" could be a little more focused. You mention that the story was "too much" for society of the time period, but you don't really say why. Focusing on the explicit nature of the text and the lack of repercussions is perhaps more important than noting Alcee's strange ideas that she is more available now that she is married (although I do think it is strange). I'm also a bit surprised that you've ordered things as you did. Why not put "The Storm" first, since that is when we talked about it and then moved on to realism? Finally, it might be worth throwing one sentence at the fact that Chopin is regionalism. Just to be on the safe side.

But since you've already used all 300 of your words, perhaps you would be better off discussing how the text is regionalism through the use of a good quotation. Using passages to cover things that you don't have time for in the main summary is an effective strategy for the wiki notes. The other two passages that you picked are well chosen and nicely explicated.

Finally, your terms are well done. All in all, this is a great model for other groups to follow.

Brian Croxall said

at 4:05 pm on Feb 5, 2010

I just took a look at your notes a second time. Dean made a few changes to clean up spelling errors and incomplete sentences in the notes, but nothing else was changed.

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