Rising to prominence during the Progressive Era—a time in America where women were often discouraged to read and write, or disengage with literature of any form due to the asinine, yet widely accepted sentiment that words on a page would drive the female conscience insane -- Kate Chopin is widely hailed by historians and scholars as one of the most iconic forerunners of the feminist movement that came to the dominate the early 20th century through her short stories and novels that have been on the receiving end of timeless praise.
Although she did not receive any accolades for her works, nor as much recognition in comparison to better known female authors during her time such as Edith Wharton -- who became the first female novelist to win The Pulitzer Prize -- Kate Chopin's legacy endured to serve as a rallying cry, and inspiration for several female contemporaries who to, have now ascended to their rightful places among the highest echelons of American Literature. Names that include Zelda Fitzgerald (wife to famed novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald), Gertrude Stein, and Willa Cather to name just a few.
Here are five of the best lines delivered through the words of one alone, which came to be the words of many:
1. "She wanted something to happen - something, anything: she did not know what."
We all dream of being something, of going somewhere. But often it lies beyond the reach of words, as an imagination uncapsulated by a camera or a picture frame. As a place we have not been, cannot go, and will never be.
2. "Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusion's all one's life."
To keep it real is to keep it painful. But through all the falls, the bruises, the scrapes, and the tears, there may linger at the end if for a moment, only for a moment, a painlessness many have conned themselves into believing it will last forever.
3. "The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamouring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude."
The sea, the water which covers crevices, valleys, and deeps yet unseen and unperceived is a place of much wonder and much fear that roars beneath the crash of its waves against one another, and the rocks that await upon the shore. But through the beat of its torrential drum, it remains a place for the solemn, and the alone. A place for those to wonder as they wander alone in their solemnity.
4. "She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world."
To grow up is to shed the cocoon woven from expectations others expect of us to confine us, and to emerge, and ascend towards expectations we have set for ourselves.
"... but whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself."
As we embark on the travail that is life, there may come times where many will tell us we belong to something, or nothing. But as such despairing words calmer against our eardrums, seaking to breakthrough to invade, to infest our psyche, we will always belong to ourselves.
Forever a voice of empowerment as she was then, Kate Chopin reminds us -- through her novels and short stories that have been but a glimpse of her enduring resilience and courage -- that regardless of what or who we are, and where we come from and where we seek to go, we always belong somewhere.
A place that lies beyond many seas of many seductive whispers and whispers. A place where awaits to embrace us -- one none other than ourselves. Enveloping us in our arms like currents which surround us as we descend, and then arise in place where we may wander in solitude.
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