Mrs. Baroda Was Not a Respectable Woman in Chopin's " A Respectable Woman"

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Mrs. Baroda in Chopin's "A Decent Woman" is not as respectable as the title implies. According to how the word is used in the novel, a decent woman is a deep-seated perception of the culture on which the story is based. A respectable woman, particularly one who is married, is not permitted to have sexual feelings for men other than her legitimate husband. A married woman expressing and having feelings for another man is against social values and convictions. Therefore, if Mrs. Baroda would go ahead and reveal her desires to Gouvernail, then the society would have condemned her harshly. However, the idea that she had already developed feelings for Gouvernail no longer allowed her to be titled as respectable. Initially, Gouvernail had visited, she had formed his image of him at the back of her mind picturing him as tall, slim and with eye-glasses, an image she did not like. After a couple of days and after getting to know him a little more better, she started liking the man she had hated. She started viewing him as a lovable, and inoffensive man, and as soon as she could realize it, she started accompanying him to his idle walks along the batture. Her behavior and perspective towards Gouvernail had begun taking a different turn, prompting her to think ta running way to her parents’ place for some days till Gouvernail left would bring things back to normal. A respectable woman, according to the context of the story, is not even allowed by the society to an eye and the slightest of such thoughts for another man. Further, as the story continues, Gouvernail approached her on a bench at night where he talked to her about a general topic. However, to indicate how deep Mrs. Baroda has deviated from who was described a respectable woman, she started fantasizing on how his voice and how she could reach out and touch his lips or the face with her sensitive fingertips. In a painful effort to prove herself strong and still worth of the title respectable woman, she stormed out of him so as not to fall to her desires. Such a lady, even if faced with such desires, would not fall into such a temptation and not in an effort to act in accordance to social norms, but the assertiveness in within. Mrs. Baroda, in her case, flee from Gouvernail since she did not want the society to judge her harshly. In more evidence to prove that Mrs. Baroda was not respectable, she finally, out of a willingness, allows Gouvernail to visit them the next year after she had refused the idea for a long time. She even claims, to the surprise of her husband, that she would be nicer to Gouvernail when he visits again. Judging from her gradual change of feelings from hatred to liking and then wanting to have physical contact with Gouvernail, then there is a higher possibility that she will fulfil her desires despite the strict social norms on women. Chances are that she will start a relationship with him in the future when he visits despite her being married, and this would then undress her of the fake title of a respectable woman.

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. "A respectable woman." Vogue 15 (1894).

November 03, 2022

Literature Sociology


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Kate Chopin Novel Society

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