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THE KISS - Kate Chopin (1850-1904)


  • Mr Brantain
  • Nathalie (Nattie)
  • Mr Harvy
  • Nathalie’s brother

The story was written on September 19, 1894, and first published in Vogue on January 17, 1895.

The physical setting is Nathalie’s home, an unspecified location where Nathalie and Brantain meet again, and the location of Nathalie and Brantain’s wedding. The social setting looks at the condition of women during the 19th century and explores Nathalie’s character in light of the feminist movement. The story is told by a third-person narrator, who presents the perspectives of all three characters in turn.

The Kiss is a short story written by Kate Chopin. It is about a woman called Nathalie (Nattie) scheming to marry a wealthy man, Brantain. However, she is having an affair with Mr Harvy. Kate Chopin uses different themes such as Money over love, exploitation and acceptance. These themes are represented to show that one can’t always have two things at once. Kate Chopin uses a variety of techniques: imagery, irony and simile throughout the story to highlight the idea.

Firstly, the theme of Money over Love is first introduced in The Kiss through the character Miss Nathalie. Miss Nathalie is a pretty and beautiful girl who manipulates people in order to get what she wants. Nathalie is in a relationship with Brantain who is not so good looking however, she is dating him because he is a wealthy man. 

Inside a dimly lit room with a smouldering (burn slowly) fire, Brantain sits in a shadow, gathering courage from the dark to stare at the handsome girl sitting in the light of the flame. The girl composedly strokes her cat and glances from time to time at Brantain as they make small talk and avoid deeper topics. Brantain loves her and she knows it, so she is waiting for him to declare his love. She intends to accept his offer despite his unattractiveness because he is immensely wealthy.

As Nathalie and Brantain are sitting in the darkroom speaking about going to a reception Mr Harvy enters the room. The girl turns to him, and before she can warn him of Brantain's presence, he gives her a passionate kiss on the lips. The Darkroom is a symbol that symbolises the relationship Nathalie has with Harvy. Brantain rises, as does the girl, and the second man reacts with confusion and amusement, as well as defiance (resistance). Nathalie explains to Brantain about the kiss, "Mr Harvy is an intimate friend of long-standing.” 

Brantain awkwardly bids them farewell, not noticing that she has tried to shake his hand, and he leaves. Meanwhile, the other man apologizes, but Nathalie rejects him and angrily asks why he did not ring the doorbell. He answers that he arrived with her brother, who went upstairs while he tried to find Nathalie, and he again asks her to forgive him. She expresses doubt that she will ever do so.

At the next reception, Nathalie seeks out Brantain, who is miserable but hopeful. She tells him that the intruder, Mr Harvy, is a close friend and that his physical familiarity results from their sibling-like attachment to each other. She mentions her worry over what Brantain must have thought about the encounter, and Brantain delightedly forgives her, to her satisfaction.

At the wedding of Nathalie and Brantain, Harvy is among the guests. Surprisingly, when he finds Nathalie, he comes towards her who is standing alone and tells her that her husband, Brantain, asks him to kiss her. Brantain does not want to interrupt Harvy and Nathalie's relationship. This idea redounds (contributes) to the pleasure of Nathalie, who feels that she has manipulated everyone. Natalie whose lips are eager to catch his kiss feels a disappointment after he tells her that he has stopped kissing women because that is dangerous. From that Natalie can learn that people cannot have everything in this world. Natalie can have the wealth of her husband but she cannot have another love from the man she loves, Harvy. Nathalie reflects philosophically that at least she still has the wealthy Brantain and that she "can't have everything in this world."


A Vocation and a Voice. Edited by Emily Toth. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Horner, Avril. “Kate Chopin, Choice and Modernism.” In The Cambridge Companion to Kate Chopin. Ed. Janet Beer. Cambridge UP, 2008. 132–46.

Kate Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories. Edited by Sandra Gilbert. New York: Library of America, 2002.

Nolan, Elizabeth. “The Awakening as Literary Innovation: Chopin, Maupassant and the Evolution of Genre.” In The Cambridge Companion to Kate Chopin. Ed. Janet Beer. Cambridge UP, 2008. 118–31.


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