When It Is too Late "European and American women in the nineteenth century lived in an age characterized by gender inequality" (Bomarito and Hunter, pars. 1). Women's role in a society was limited to be wives and mothers. But as time went on, things began to change. Women started to have the right of higher education and working (Bomarito and Hunter, pars. 5). They became more independent in their lives without the need of men to support. But the question is that was this change good for women or not? The American author Kate Chopin gave an example of those independent women in her short story "Regret".
In the story, a woman called Mamzelle Aurelie lived alone in her farm. She has never got married and never had children. But one day the silence in Aurelie's life was broken as she carried the burden of looking after her neighbor's four children for two weeks. One might ask how could she manage to take care of these children since she never had one? In the story Chopin describes the difficulties Aurelie faced and how she finally managed to deal with the children, also how she felt after the children left her alone.
In "Regret", Chopin uses this description to explore the change in Mamzelle Aurelie's character before and after the arrival of the children and her regret at the past. At the beginning of the story, Chopin describes Mamzelle Aurelie in masculine terms. She was unmarried and never thought of getting married. She was a middle-aged woman with a rugged appearance. "She wore a man's hat about the farm, and an old blue army overcoat when it was cold, and sometimes topboots" (Chopin 1). She was strong and capable in her every day life.
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She had a "determined eye" (Chopin 1), and she lived quite alone except for her dog Panto. She even ran her own farm and supervised her workers. That shows how independent and hardened woman she was. All this description appeared in Aurelie's character before the arrival of her neighbor's children. After the arrival of the children, Aurelie became aware of the missing part of her character which is womanhood. Those children had arose this suppressed character in Aurelie. At the beginning she did not know how to deal with these children.
She treated them as if they were another variety of her farm animal. But soon she realized that "little children are not little pigs" (Chopin 2). Taking care of the children required the awaken of feminine and maternal aspects in Aurelie's nature that were dormant. Therefore she brought out her "white aprons" (Chopin 2) and "got down her sewing-basket"(Chopin 2) to mend the children's clothes. She washed their feet before bed. Told them stories, and even let the youngest sleep with her. At the end of the story, the children had to go back home and leave Mamezlle Aurelie alone again.
After they had awaken her maternal instinct, they left her in a great sadness and regret. "The red sunset and the blue-gray twilight had together flung a purple mist across the fields and road that hid it from her view" (Chopin 3). She realized that the void left by the children could not be filled by her own at the age of fifty. She felt regret for banning herself from a great happiness; she might have done this because she wanted her independence or because she did not find a true love.
Now after discovering all these things, "she let her head fall down upon her bended arm, and began to cry" (Chopin 3). In the short story "Regret", the change in Mamzelle Aurelie's character caused her sadness and regret. In her past life, she hid some good aspects of her character beyond her appearance. She seemed to be strong and appeared in man's style. But when the children had entered her life, soft sides in her character appeared. At that period , she starts doing things she had never done before.
She took care of the children, and spent most of her time with them as if she were their mother. In those two weeks, her kind heart and maternity instincts revealed. And when the children left her, she realized how much time of her life she had wasted without being a mother and banning herself from this kind of happiness.
- Primary Chopin, Kate. "Regret". New York: The Century Company, 1895. Secondary Bomarito, Jessica, and Jeffrey W. Hunter, ed.
- "Women in the 19th Century – Introduction". Feminism in Literature. Vol. 2. Gale Cengage, 2005. eNotes. com.
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Analysis of Regret by Kate Chopin. (2017, Mar 30). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/analysis-of-regret-by-kate-chopin/