The Characters Mrs. Mallard, Calixta, and Mrs. Baroda

Kate Chopin's Works and Victorian Society

Kate Chopin's works were ahead of their time as a Victorian writer. As a result, her critical appreciation arrived decades after her death. Chopin's compositions demonstrate her expertise at depicting the lives of women in the Victorian era. Choplin introduces three female characters, Mrs. Mallard, Calixta, and Mrs. Baroda, in three stories: The Tale of an Hour, The Storm, and A Respectable Lady. All of the women in the stories are married, and Chopin depicts scenarios in which the three women grow and adjust to the marital responsibilities of Victorian society. In the stories, Mrs. Mallard and Calixta are dynamic characters while Mrs. Baroda is a static character.

Dynamic Characters: Mrs. Mallard's Growth

Dynamic characters are characters that develop and grow in a story while static characters do not grow. For Mrs. Mallard, her growth is witnessed as she learns to understand and embrace her feelings towards the news about the death of her husband. At first, Mrs. Mallard is sad and weeps as is expected by the society. Her grief about her husband is shown when "She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone" (Chopin "The Story of an Hour" 110). When she went to her room, she tried to hold back other feelings that had bottled up over the course of her marriage. At last, the readers can witness the growth of the character as she moves from traditional and indoctrinates reactions of sadness to that of renewed joy and vigor for new found freedom. Mrs. Mallard whispers to herself, "free, free, free!"; "Free! Body and soul free!" (Chopin "The Story of an Hour" 110). Even pronouncement of Mrs. Mallard's death is ironical indicating her joy from the promise of freedom (Cunningham 50). The reactions take leave from the traditional Victorian woman who was subject to the will of her husband to one who looks life with a new eye of freedom to enjoy her youth.

Dynamic Characters: Calixta's Transformation

Another dynamic character who witnesses tremendous growth by enjoying her youth is Calixta. At the beginning of the story, Calixta is portrayed as the devoted and normal Victorian-era wife. She is devoted to housekeeping duties while her husband and son go to the shop to buy different stuff. Her behavior as a woman is even shown by the expectations by her son that she will be afraid due to the storm. Bibi says "Mama'll be 'fraid, yes," as he shows the position of the woman in the society (Chopin "The Storm" 113). Calixta's devotion to her household duties is revealed by how furious she sews such that she does not see the approaching storm. However, her growth occurs when her ex-boyfriend, Alcee comes to seek shelter in her house. Old love is rekindled, and Calixta transforms from a dutiful and committed wife into an adulterer and a lover. This transformation is shown as Calixta and Alcee make love in her house which is even compared with the storm. In fact, Calixta has grown from a traditional woman who only engages in lovemaking only for the perceived duty of procreation to a woman who enjoys the act. Calixta's growth in terms of her sex life is shown in the description, "The generous abundance of her passion, without guile or trickery, was like a white flame which penetrated and found response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached" (Chopin "The Storm" 115). Her growth towards reveling in her sexuality presents the dynamic nature of Calixta as a character.

Static Character: Mrs. Baroda's Inability to Act

However, the inability of Mrs. Baroda to act and explore her feelings and revel in her sexuality when the opportunity presents itself reveals her to be rather static. Mrs. Baroda presents the traditional wife in the Victorian era; she evades the need to express and explore her feelings. At first, she shows the dislike of male strangers but ends up welcoming to her home anyway, despite her reserves. As she encounters Gouvernail and develops feelings for him, she is afraid to explore and express those feelings. As a dutiful wife, she was of the mind to tell her husband about the feelings but was unsure how to do it. "Mrs. Baroda was greatly tempted that night to tell her husband--who was also her friend--of this folly that had seized her" (Chopin "A Respectable Woman" 122). Instead of acting on her feelings, she is forced to bottle them up and flee to Aunt Octavie's and waits until Gouvernail had left for her to return. After she returned, she was against the idea of her husband inviting Gouvernail again even though she later relents and promises to treat their guest nicer next time. Although, her concluding remarks might imply that she is ready to explore her feelings, they are vague to imply that she has experienced growth.


In conclusion, it is evident that Chopin uses both dynamic and static characters in her stories. She uses the static character of Mrs. Baroda to show the expected behavior and character of a traditional Victorian woman when faced with romantic feelings, thinks of them as folly and not act on them. On the other hand, Chopin uses dynamic characters to challenge the preconceived notion of subordination and presents the amount of joy and happiness that can be experienced if only they dared to break free of the societal bondage.

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. “A Respectable Woman.” Literature for Writing: A Reader for Comp II. 2nd ed. Mason, Ohio: Cengage, 2015. 120-123. Print.

Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” Literature for Writing: A Reader for Comp II. 2nd ed. Mason, Ohio: Cengage, 2015. 113-117. Print.

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Literature for Writing: A Reader for Comp II. 2nd ed. Mason, Ohio: Cengage, 2015. 109-111. Print.

Cunningham, Mark. “The Autonomous Female Self and the Death of Louise Mallard in Kate Chopin’s ‘Story of an Hour.’” English Language Notes 42.1 (Sept. 2004): 48-55. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Vol. 110. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Web. 27 Nov. 2010.

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