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There are several instances of married people falling out of love with their partners and getting into romantic relationship with another married person, normally a person who is known to them for a considerable period. The institution of marriage relates to the partner with whom a person is to have children, but the lover brings a connection with the soul, understanding, compassion, great sex and love. Most people feel that the connection of the soul in this context is highly over rated and is often not associated with what it is expected to be.
The big question arises as to what is more important, lover or spouse. A better understanding in this regard can be gained by delving into the issues that come to the mind after one reads the short story “The Storm”, by Kate Chopin. In this short story the two main characters Alcee and Calixta had flirted with each other a few years before the story is narrated, and are revealed as leading a suitable married life with their respective spouses.
While the story is being narrated both the erstwhile lovers relive the time when their passion for each other was at its peak.
On the face of it the story is about the aspect of meeting again after several years, but under the surface, the story reveals the restraints and standards during the late 19th century while indicating the inherent human tendency in regard to sex and passion. The author has illustrated the sexual restraints by using the title “The Storm”, because in literary terms a storm signifies turmoil, uneasiness and conflict, and it is this image of storm that has been used to display the sexual tensions that build between Calixta and Alcee through out the story.
The story gives several illustrations in referring to the stormy situations until Calixta and Alcee have a sexual encounter after which the storm begins to fade away and everything in the world appears to become fresh and renewed again. Society has always imposed restraints on extra marital relationships and Chopin has used a few of Calixta’s actions in the story as being representative of such sexual restraints. For example the story depicts Calixta as being busy in the household affairs until Alcee comes to her house.
She is shown as doing the work with frustration and vigour in keeping with the imposed duties of a wife. After Alcee reaches Calixta’s house, she grabs her husband Bobinot’s pants in order to prevent them from blowing away in the storm, thus signifying that she wants to subvert the marital and social restrictions that control her. The storm draws nearer and both of them draw closer to each other in acting upon the apparent sexual tension between them and ultimately they put their apprehensions aside.
Most of the symbols in the story are indicative of doing away with the restrictions imposed by society. The passion between them gives way and Calixta becomes vulnerable to Alcee since there is nothing to dissuade her from concentrating entirely on him. After their encounter, they are confronted with the consequences of what may follow, but instead of being repentant about the act, both have a sense of relief and feel renewed. This way the storm passes away and all are happy. As the two depart they laugh out aloud without feeling any shame or guilt.
Calixta is portrayed as having received the pleasure that she did not receive from her husband, and she could realise her true feminine sexuality in a way that could be achieved only through a lover. The story is about the sexual instincts of human beings and is also representative of the sexual reservations that prevailed during the end of the 19th century when it was written (Joanna Bartee, 2009). Extra marital affairs do happen out of emotions due to several reasons that are not entirely in control of people. They can last for years, having their own dilemmas unlike the marriages that spouses are into.
Such relationships arise due to emotional problems which may make marriages to fall apart and much of such troubles are carried on into the love affairs. It is for this reason that estranged people try to find some other person in their lives who could bring out the best in them. Just as is described in “The Storm”, extra marital affairs today are not related to deep romance and emotion, but are more in the nature of giving vent to sexual urge and desire that may have been lying dormant in anticipation of realising passionate moments with someone with whom a person gets fascinated to.
With married people who are not happy in an existing marriage, there is a constant urge to experience emotional and loving relationships, which could go to the extent of having sexual relationship. Such relationship is considered to be unethical by the other partner and results in hurt being inflicted that may lead to an eventual break up. Sexual addictions are not in the true sense extra marital relations but are more in the nature of sexual adventures to satisfy the urge for sex.
Hence in the existing scheme of things there are several pertinent questions. Is it proper to have a relationship with two people at the same time and whether one can find solace with more than one person and whether married people can find contentment while being in love with each other. Divorce is a painful process and is hard to handle, and the solutions are not easy to find. People, who reach a dead end in life with their partners, often find escape into extra marital relationships which does bring relief to them.
But then this relationship is not accepted by society and is looked down upon, which makes them to indulge in the relationship in a clandestine way. This has been happening since the earliest days. Not everybody indulges in extra marital relationship, and in most cases it is such people who seek solace and relief in getting into an emotional relationship outside marriage. The solution to the problems is difficult to find in view of the bitter process of broken marriages and divorces.
For the sake of family peace and the children’s upbringing several people do compromise on this account (Robert Huizenga, 2009). We live only once and we are alone in our journey towards re-evaluating and rethinking our decisions into a state of awareness about where we are headed in life and what we are becoming. It is a hard process and we have to make hard choices because leaving a relationship does not sort out problems entirely. We have to work towards a state of consciousness in understanding our shortcomings and making the best of what is available by indulging in the balancing act of life.
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