Compare and contrast ‘The Storm’ and ‘The Story of an Hour’





Compare and contrast ‘The Storm’ and ‘The Story of an Hour’

‘The Storm’ and ‘The Story of an Hour’ are both short stories written by Kate Chopin. ‘The Storm’ is the story of a family made up of Calixta, the wife and the main protagonist, her husband Bobinot and their four year old son Bibi. The main characters in ‘The Story of an Hour’ are Brently and Louise Millard who have been married for a long time and Louise’s sister Josephine as well as Richards who is a friend of the family (Seyersted). In comparing and contrasting the two stories, the main areas to examine include themes, setting and characterization.

The plot in ‘The Storm’ revolves around Calixta who is a married woman mainly tasked with taking care of her husband and son. Her husband and son went out and left her alone at home. While they are gone, a storm brews and Calixta is all alone at home. She goes out to get her husband and son’s ‘Sunday clothes’. A man known as Alcee comes to seek shelter from the storm at Calixta’s house. At first he was hesitant to come in but as the storm picked up he came in.

Alcee and Calixta once had feelings for each other before they were married and had even shared passionate kisses. However after they got married to their respective spouses, they had never been alone together (Stein 53). In the midst of the storm they rekindle they passion perhaps due to their close proximity and the fact that they are all alone. They are both heedless of the fact that their lovemaking could hurt and affect their families negatively.

Meanwhile Bobinot and Bibi are out at the store and are probably worried because Calixta has been left alone at home. Bobinot even buys a can of shrimp because it is his wife’s favorite. When the storm passes, Bobinot is anxious to get home but enters through the backdoor because he is afraid of how his wife will react to their muddied clothes. Calixta however receives them joyfully and the family sits down to a dinner filled with laughter. Father and son are unaware of the Calixta’s betrayal.

The second short story is ‘The Story of an Hour’. It is similarly set up in a family with Louise and Brently who are married to each other. Louise has long been considered to be a delicate woman with a weak heart (Hicks). Richards learns that there had been an accident and that Brently was among those killed. Josephine is reluctant to let her sister know the fate of her husband. Louise cries in an armchair and goes to her room to cry.

In her room, she looks out of her window to see the trees and flowers blooming. This is a sign of rebirth and she finds herself thinking that she was now free of her husband’s influence. Her lack of grief on her husband’s death is quite startling. Downstairs, her husband suddenly returns home completely unaware of what had happened. Josephine and Richards are reluctant to let Louise see him as she will be shocked (Hicks). Their fears come to pass as Louise comes out and on seeing her husband she drips dead. The doctors declare that she died of happiness in an ironic twist of fate.

Both of these stories have a common theme of irony. In ‘The Story of the Hour’, Louise‘s reaction to the news that her husband died can be considered ironic. She goes to her room but while her sister thinks she is crying, she is actually contemplating the freedom that the death has brought her. She does not think of other things that might be expected such as grief, or the fact that she will be left alone.

The irony in the ‘The Storm’ is when Bobinot and his son come back home, the family sits down to a happy meal. This is despite the fact that Calixta has cheated on her husband with whom she was acquainted before her marriage. The happiness after the fact is ironic since the events that happened before would have brought a lot of sadness to Bobinot and Bibi and probably destroyed their family.

A second comparison between the two stories is that the main characters are caught in marriages in which one partner is dominant over the other. In ‘The Storm’, Calixta is obviously dominant over her husband. This is evident when Bobinot is wary of his wife’s reaction when he and his son come home with soiled clothes. He tries to clean it off and they are both relieved when Calixta welcomes them home joyfully.

Louise Mallard in ‘The Story of an Hour’ was obviously oppressed and stifled in her marriage to Brently. Due to this fact, she celebrated her husband’s death instead of grieving as others expected her to be doing. In her mind, she imagines the freedom that she will have in the remaining years of life that she will be alone (Hicks). Her death when she sees her husband could have been due to the fact that she was both shocked and disappointed because she had already become excited at the prospect of being free.

Both of the stories also have the same domestic setting with the women being the main characters. Calixta and Louise are women who are shown to yearn for freedom in different ways. Louise is happy about her husband’s death while Calixta is happy to teach on her husband with Alcee. Both women appear to be confined to their households primarily being home makers.

There is also some apparent contrast in the two stories. The main characters in the stories, Louise and Calixta have very different personalities. Luoise appears to be more submissive and probably would never stand up to herself. For this reason she celebrates her husband’s death by contemplating her freedom. Calixta is much more daring. She slept with Alcee in her won house while her husband was out of the house. She also is the dominant partner in her marriage as her husband appears wary of her relationship.

The two stories have several similarities as well as differences. Women are the central characters in the story and bring out the main themes in the story. The settings also show the vulnerabilities and submission that is a part of marriages that make the partners yearn for different forms of freedoms. The major theme is marriage and the different challenges that happen within it especially in the Victorian era where women’s job was mainly to be homemakers.

Works Cited

Hicks, Jennifer. “An overview of “The Story of an Hour”.” Short Stories for Students, Gale, 2002. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 28 Feb. 2019. 

Seyersted, Per. “An excerpt from Kate Chopin: A Critical Biography.” World LiteratCriticism, Supplement 1-2: A Selection of Major Authors from Gale’s Literary Criticism Series, edited by Polly Vedder, vol. 1, Gale, 1997.Literature Resource Center Accessed 28 Feb. 2019. Originally published in Kate Chopin: A Critical Biography, by Per Seyersted, Louisiana State University Press, 1969.

Stein, Allen. “The Kaleidoscope of Truth: A New Look at Chopin’s ‘The Storm.’.” Short Story Criticism, edited by Jelena Krstovic, vol. 110, Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 28 Feb. 2019. Originally published in American Literary Realism, 1870-1910, vol. 36, no. 1, Fall 2003, pp. 51-64.