Maupassant S Influence On Kate Chopin And

The Awakeing Essay, Research Paper

Every writer has an influence. Some are influenced by the ideas that the author has; some are influenced by the style, which the author writes with. Still others are so intrigued by a writer that they are not only influenced by their way of thinking and their writing, but they actually begin to mimic the author in many ways. This is the case with Guy de Maupassant s influence on Kate Chopin, who is undoubtedly the greatest influence on Chopin s writing.

Maupassant was born in Ch teaude de Miromesnil, Normandy (Encarta). He received his education at Yvetot and Rauen and there joined a literary team where he was trained as a writer of fiction by Flaubert, another well know French author (Encarta). He, like Chopin, wrote many short stories, for which he is remembered the most (Encarta). Like Chopin, Maupassant s ideas were looked at as immoral and mature, dealing with ideas such as sex, loneliness, and depression (Jones 385). He questioned the standards of the day, and was therefore rejected by many people as an immoral person (Jones 385).

Kate Chopin s interest in Maupassant began after her mother died (Toth 181). At that time she had moved to a new location in the city where she lived and began to make new friends who were interested in the writings of Maupassant (Toth181). She described vividly how she felt upon reading Guy de Maupassant for the first time:

His writing undoubtedly moved her. Chopin claims to have felt that he spoke to her directly and intimately (Toth 181). She admired him most for the things that made him the writer that he was. She was intrigued by his escape from tradition and authority and for having entered into himself and looked out upon life through his own being and with his own eyes (Skaggs 205). Eventually Maupassant replaced other writers as her primary influence and literary model (Toth 205).

Chopin had such and interest in Maupassant that she translated many of his stories from French to English (Toth 273). Due to there content, however, several were never published (Toth 273). Chopin had been taught French by her grandmother, who wanted her to know how to speak and write French well (Toth 35). Through this Chopin was able to take the stories of Maupassant and easily translate them. The more Chopin translated Maupassant the more she was influenced by his thinking and writing (Tonth 274). Even in reading Maupassant s stories, while they are translated, you can still tell that there is a remarkable similarity to Chopin s writing and his. Chopin used realistic characters and very expressive details to in her writing, much like Maupassant (Ewell 19). Many of Chopin s short stories resemble those of Maupassant s. Chopin s Her Letter is similar to Maupassant s It? and Night (Toth 272). Chopin s The Night Came Slowly is similar Maupassant s Solitude (Toth 272). Finally, Maupassant s Suicide influenced Chopin s novel, The Awakening.

Undoubtedly with Chopin’s attempts to emulate Maupassant, and the fact that he was almost her only literary model, it makes since that her greatest work, The Awakening, would have touches of Maupassant and his ideals located throughout the novel (Wolff 37). In fact, Maupassant had a short story called The Awakening, who s plot more than resembles Kate Chopin s book of the same name. At one casual reading one might find the similarities subtle, and small; however, if one digs a bit deeper, one may find the actual similarities frightening. In Maupassant s The Awakening, Maupassant writes, As she saw him continually she had grown accustomed to his voice, to his gestures, and to his manner, as one grows accustomed to those who whom one meets continually (Maupassant 256). In Chopin s Awakening, Edna tells Robert, I’ve grown used to seeing you, to having you with me all the time . Like Edna, the woman in Maupassant s The Awakening is married when she falls in love with another man and becomes intimately involved with him; however, these two stories have two different endings. Edna sees her situation as hopeless and drowns herself (Chopin 109). Maupassant s character returns to her husband because she knows that she can not resist her desires for the other man much longer, and she does not want to commit adultery (Maupassant 259).

It is obvious that Chopin was influenced by this story; however, for whatever reason she chose to develop her characters differently and to have a different ending (Jasenas 315). She took several of Maupassant s ideas, but resolved them differently than him (Jaenas 314-15). One reason for this could be traced to the different definitions of awakening that Maupassant and Chopin had. Chopin views an awakening as the end to a long personal struggle, but Maupassant sees an awakening as simply giving up (Jasenas 314). Maupassant s influence is indirectly apparent in her ending because of the surprise ending, a device that Maupassant used frequently (Jasenas 314-15).

Although most biographies make only vague mentions of the influence Maupassant had on Kate Chopin, that does not change the facts. Had it not been for Maupassant ideas and challenges, Kate Chopin may have never been remembered. Her stories would have been typical of the day, and insignificant, but because of Maupassant, however, Chopin dared to question what was normal, and challenged what was moral. Her contributions to literature will never be forgotten. It is a shame that the Maupassant s stories are not in college literature books beside of Chopin s stories. In doing so the makers fail to give credit where it is due. Kate Chopin is definitely a creation of Guy de Maupassant, and because of him, and his influence, will never be forgotten.



Ewell, Barbra C.. Kate Chopin. New York: The Ungar Publishing Company, 1986.

Jasenas, Elaine. The Frengh Influence in Kate Chopin s The Awakening. Nineteenth-century French Studies 4.(Spring): 312-322.

Jones, Michelle L.. Kate Chopin. Great Lives From History: The American Woman Series. Ed. Frank N. Magil. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press, 1995. 383-387

Maupassant, (Henri Ren Albert) Guy de. Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 1998 ed.

Maupassant, Guy de. The Awakening. Moiron and Short Stories. New York: The Pearson Publishing Co., 1910. 253-59.

Skaggs, Peggy. Kate Chopin. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985.

Toth, Emily. Kate Chopin: A life of the Author of The Awakening. New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1990.

Wolff, Cynthia. The Fiction of Limits: D sir e s Baby. Modern Critical Views: Kate Chopin. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philidelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 35-42



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