Marxism / Kate Chopin " The Storm"

Marist Criticism/" The Storm"

Have you joined the revolution yet? Believe it or not there is a revolution going on as we speak. The revolution that I speak about is called the Marxist Revolution; in short it is just a power struggle. The strong side is trying to dominate the opposing weak side. Some authors and scholars used the social and economic theories of Karl Marx in their works. (Karl Marx was the forefather of Marxism and its theories) Marxism has even been used as a type of literary criticism, called Marxist Criticism. As in Kate Chopin’s short story, “The Storm”, Marxism is present; therefore, Marxist Criticism is used to analyze the story.

Marxist Criticism is, “ The middle class capitalists exploiting the working class who produce excess products and profits yet do not share in the benefits of their labor. All parts of the society, in which Marx (Karl Marx, author of Marxist Theory) lived – religious, legal, educational, governmental- as tainted by what they saw as corrupt values of middle-class capitalism. ” (Kirzner, 2035). In simple terms, Marxism is the “High Educated,” Elite, Bourgeois (bush wa) against the “Illiterate,” impoverished, Proletariant. According to critic Paul N.Siegel, Marxist literary criticism has the foundation of economics to deal with separate issues such as religion, politics, literature …(163). Therefore, when the Marxist literary theory is applied, the foundation of the critic deals with economic problems and how the rich are controlling the poor.

The best way to break down Marxism is into three parts: The Philosophy of Marx, The Economic Doctrine of Marx, and The Historical Materialism of Herr Marx.

According to Karl Marx, “Dialectical materialism is the only scientific interpretation of the world; it is opposed to idealism which offers and interpretation based on religion”(Rius, 149). In the story “The Strom”, dialectical materialism would apply because there is the implication that Marxism is analogous to the storm. The conditions were set in the story, with the overwhelming amount of situations correlating Marxism to the personal arousing situations in the story. Starting with the worm air rising into cold air, rain was sure to come. The setting off of the correlation between Marxism and the characters and happenings in the story are with the between the father and the son. He, the father was the protector, Marxism, providing the son with the strength to face the fear of the storm. He did this by buying him a can of shrimp to appease his fear of not only the storm, but the child’s fear for Calixta the mother. With a small token, such as the can of shrimp he proved that the child somewhat like the masses could be controlled to believe that they are protected and cared for. The mother, Calixta, knew the storm would bring strong winds She realized this with the speed the storm was coming her way. Marxism is a parallel to this in the progress it made in convincing the proletariat of its power, providing and nurturing with a speed so fast that all believed. Calixta had to close up the house and fetch the clothes because in doing this she felt she had complied with the necessary role she had or wanted to play in making her family safe and secure. . Chopin writes, “It began to grow dark, and suddenly realizing the situation she got up hurriedly and went about closing windows and doors” (Chopin, 146). The part of the story where point Calixta and Alcee have their sudden and swift encounter in their meeting outside her house. While she was protecting her husband’s clothes by bringing them in, again, we see a tie to Marxism’s sudden and imposing power like the storm, of situations that people cannot control. His coming into the house was the setting off again of not only the affair but of uncontrolled situation given to the people by the manipulation of the Marxist movement, not brought by religious or metaphysical doings, but by scientific doings. Such scientific causes in The Storm may have been the chemical attraction to the opposite sex. All the situations such as Alcee coming into the house to aid Calixta and promoting in her a need for the new experience of adultery, is also a hint of the new bringing hope and adventure to a frustrating and yet obligating role of Calixta’s existence. This again is brought on by physiological and scientific causes, bringing on idealistic situations. The reason Alcee ended up in the house was to avoid the strong storm winds much like accepting Marxism as a new, yet required change for a frustrated society. Bobinot and Bibi stayed in town to avoid them getting hurt by the storm, so as to protect the family structure and by avoiding the rain and strong winds there is the assurance of coming home to security and family unity. Marxism also brought with it an assurance of security and betterment for the masses.

The Economic Doctrine of Marx, is explained in The Communist Manifesto, Marx explains the comparison of two different items that have ended up being equal in worth (Beer, xvi). At the beginning of Chopin’s “The Storm”, Bobinot went into the store and bought his wife a can of shrimp. This would say that he (Bobinot) is comparing his wife’s happiness to a can of shrimp. Both are different, but yet, both have the same value, which is his wife’s love and security. Just as Bibi and Bobinot used the protection of the store to avoid the storm, Bibi held his father’s hand to protect himself. The store acted as a safe haven for both father and son and the father’s hand was a safe haven for Bibi. As for Calixta, her marriage was linked to her affair, both brought her happiness. “The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production (Rius, 119). Marx goes on to explain in the Communist Manifesto, “Our bourgeois not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes. Taking the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives”(Beer, 29). The exploitation is also talked about in the section of economic problems. In part four of “The Storm”, it infers that Alcee’s wife (Clarisse) is on vacation. Clarisse implies that she is pleased in relinquishing their private married life. To a certain point this appears that Alcee is looking for a prostitute since his wife is away. In sociology (the study of society), prostitution has been associated to poverty. It is an indirect assumption that Calixta and her family are poor given that Bobinot only bought a can of shrimp and Calixta is sewing their clothes. Therefore, the indications point to Calixta perhaps playing a role of a prostitute for Alcee. Her payment is the mere satisfaction of an adventurous interlude with an unexpected, yet gratifying event in her life. Marxism was a movement that gave hope to the hopeless and promised a new and almost hopeful like life.

Robert L. Heilbroner, author of Marxism: For or Against, defines historical materialism, “as a perspective that highlights the central role played in history by the productive activities of mankind…”(21). Simply Marx states that history is made by man and not by fate. In review, the story at hand does show historical materialism; Calixta changed her honest history by having an affair behind her husband’s back. As for Alcee, he too made his past by cheating on his wife with Calixta. History books teach students that the main purpose for learning history is to prevent making the mistakes of the past and develop better ideas for the future. This wrong decision Calixta made could assist her in raising her son and illustrate her promiscuous choice in the past. Alcee may perhaps look bad on his wrong decision he made while making his history. The way Alcee changed his past is a good indication of the way he may change is future.

In the implementation of literary criticism, Marxist criticism was applied while editing Kate Chopin’s short story “The Storm.” Marxist Criticism is the supremacy battle, which implicates the feeble in opposition to the tough. The over ruling of the impoverished by the well to do, average class over the inferior class. Karl Marx’s ideas have changed the whole world, as we know it. Many movements have been stared by the study of Marxism: Vietnam, Korea, Civil War in France, Mexican Revolution, etc… Nevertheless, authors and playwrights have studied and implemented the ideas of Marx. Such great stories as: “The Pearl”, “The Metamorphosis” and “ A & P” are just a few works that illustrate Marxist Criticism.


Works Citied

Beer, H. Samuel. Ed. The Communist Manifesto. New York: Harlan Davidson Inc,

Copyright 1955. Xvi, 29

Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Eds. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. 3rd ed. San Antonio: Harcourt Brace College Pub. , Copyright 1997. 146

Helilborner, L. Robert. Marxism: For and Against. New York: W.W.Norton & Company, Copyright 1980. 21

Kirszner, G. Laurie. And Stephen R. Mandaell. Eds. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 3rd ed. San Antonio: Harcourt Grace College Pub. , 1997. 2035

Rius. Ed. Marx for Beginners. New York: Pantheon Books, copyright 1976. 119, 149

Siegel, N. Paul. “Falstaff and His Social Milieu.” Weapons of Criticism: Marxism in America and the Literary Tradition. Ed. Norman Rudich. California: Ramparts Press, Copyright 1976. 163

Word Count: 1445

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