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The Kiss

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Kiss” (1895) by Kate Chopin. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it. 

Kate Chopin (1851-1904) was an American author best known for describing and analyzing the lives of women living in a world dominated by men. The themes approached by Chopin created controversy during her lifetime, so most of her literary works became successful and were published after her death. 

Extract

Here is an extract from our study guide:

Social setting

The story’s social setting looks mainly at the condition of women during the 19th century. Nathalie is a young woman for whom financial security is more important than love. She chooses Brantain over Harvy not because she loves Brantain, but because Harvy cannot offer her the stability and “the entourage which wealth could give her”. The story suggests that in the 19th century, a woman depended on a man when it came to obtaining a social status. 

The social setting also looks at courtship in the 19th century. Nathalie and Brantain are shown in the same room together, but maintaining physical distance, as required by the 19th century social standards. They make small-talk, “talking low, of indifferent things which plainly were not the things that occupied their thoughts”, to get to know each other. Generally, meetings between a young man and woman had to take place under a family member’s supervision, but this is not the case in “The Kiss”. In such a context, Harvy’s act of kissing Nathalie could be considered even bolder, which is one of the reasons why Brantain is so taken aback by it.

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The Kiss

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