May 14, 2019 in Literature

Love can be truly regarded as one of the most powerful feelings in the world. Together with passion, love may change the way people behave, think, and act. In this respect, love, as well as passion has a great power over humans' minds and deeds. While love is usually considered as the one that brings a wave of different emotions, sometimes it can overwhelm a person and eclipse his or her mind. In the short story The Storm, the particular disastrous power of love accompanied by passion and hidden desires can be observed. The author of the literary piece, Kate Chopin, portrays an adultery directly linked to the storm that flares up and subsides in parallel to the emotions of the two paramours. Thus, love, specifically its physical side, and passion depicted by Chopin have a destructive impact on the former lovers – Calixta and Alcee. On the contrary, the feeling represented in the movie As Good as it Gets neither forces the main character to make a sin nor ruins his life. In the movie, love has a saving power making the protagonist, Melvin Udall, better and franker person. Therefore, while love can have completely opposite manifestations – a destructive passion and caring kindness – the nature of love deserves further investigation.

The Destructive Power of Love Portrayed in The Storm

In The Storm, the devastating power of love is demonstrated through the passion between the two former lovers. Calixta, a housewife, surrenders her physical desire to her lover from the past, Alcee. An affair takes place in the background of the storm that has become the reason for their meeting. Both of the characters are married and are supposed to follow ethical and moral principles. However, Calixta's marriage cannot be regarded as a happy union of a man and a woman. Through the portraying of her female character, Chopin shows the audience how repressive and restricting a marriage can be. Thus, Calixta's life is slow and leisurely – she is working at home and is waiting for her family to come back. According to Chopin, the woman “felt very warm and often stopped to mop her face on which the perspiration gathered in beads”. One can assume that Calixta intuitively felt an approach of the misery. In this respect, Alcee can be regarded as the storm that has broken into woman's life, as well as brought passion in it. In fact, an affair between the two paramours evokes the storm of feelings that can be compared to the changes of the weather outside. Moreover, the fact that Alcee and the bad weather arrive at the same time underlines their connection. While the storm threatens to ruin the house of Calixta and her husband, the lover from the past puts at risk the marriage and the relationship of the married couple. Thereby, both Alcee and the storm break into the life of the woman changing it and revealing hidden feelings. 

 

At the same time, the storm depicted in the short story portrays a complex emotional conflict between the woman and her desires. As the weather becomes worse, Calixta is in her daily routine while her husband and son are out at the store. Thus, nothing foreshadowed a misfortune that was moving towards the woman, “certain somber clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar”. In this respect, the approaching storm can be regarded as a symbol of something threatening and destructive coming to Calixta's life. Moreover, the author’s depiction of the storm reminds a growling animal that fatefully roars while seeking for its prey. Although the woman has not yet noticed the approaching of the bad weather, she is subconsciously aware of its devastating power. Furthermore, Chopin frequently depicts the storm as “stiflingly hot”. Such description can also refer to Calixta and her paramour who are isolated by the mixture of heat and rain from the outer world. The storm also lights a spark between the former lovers that turns into passion. What is more important, neither the storm nor any other natural phenomenon could have forced Calixta to betray her husband if she had been happily married. The fact that the woman is oppressed in her conservative marriage cannot be ignored, as well as her hidden desire and crashing emotions she feels towards Alcee. Therefore, the storm evokes emotional turmoil of the female character and helps her to conquer the oppression that comes from the forbidden desire. 

The Saving Power of Love in As Good as it Gets

Similarly to Calixta, the main character of the movie As Good as it Gets suffers from his own asociality. While Chopin's female character is oppressed by her marriage and conservative husband, Melvin himself created the world he is supposed to live in. At the same time, the character is hostile to the people around him. In fact, Melvin is a victim of his disorder as well as character. The man has an anxiety disorder that, in turn, greatly influences his interactions with the outer world. These anxiety disorders lessen chances of the character to start a conversation or pay a compliment to a woman he meets at the cafe. Moreover, Melvin also suffers from apprehension over an anticipated problem. In this respect, psychologists single out different manifestations of the anxiety disorders including physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. According to them, a person who has an anxiety illness can suffer from increased heart rate, trembling, a loss of concentration, or apprehensiveness. Thus, Melvin is depicted as an arrogant man who lacks sensitiveness and care for others. Nevertheless, love that comes into man's life dramatically changes him into a more caring and less obsessive person than he has been before. 

 

At the same time, while in Chopin's story the feeling between the two former lovers is detractive and forbidden, in As Good as it Gets, love is demonstrated as a bright and saving force. Suffering from the anxious disorder, Melvin is feared almost of everything that takes place around him. The thought that another person can touch him evokes great anxiety and worries that, in turn, force the man to avoid being touched, as well as any other interaction with people. Melvin even brings his own plastic dishes in the cafe where he eats in order to stay away from contamination. Nevertheless, this obsession starts to diminish once the character becomes acquainted with Carol – the waitress in the cafe where he always has a dinner. The thoughts of the man are rather preoccupied with Carol and he experiences a new previously unknown feeling that is different from worries and obsessions. Moreover, the fear of contamination almost disappears that allows Melvin to express his emotions and surrender to love. In this respect, the cure of Melvin's anxiety and obsession is love that saves him and gives a chance to become more open and sensitive person. Thus, love has a sudden and intense impact on the character's life changing his attitude toward his previous fears.

Comparison of Feelings Depicted in the Storm and As Good as it Gets

While The Storm is a portrayal of human violation of moral and ethical principles and norms, As Good as it Gets is a movie that teaches the audience to value and care for each other. Although Calixta and Melvin are oppressed by their position in the marriage and society, the passion and love they experience completely change the situation. Calixta surrenders to the passion that has come with her former lover from the past and this event evokes the feelings that the woman has been hiding during her marriage. Similarly to Calixta, Melvin's life also changes – he becomes less obsessed with details and fears and more open to the outer world and people around him. However, the feelings of these characters have an opposite impact on them – while Calixta's passion forces her to commit adultery, Melvin's emotions to the waitress make him a better man. In this respect, love can either ruin someone's life and dazzle the mind of a person or improve one’s self. Thereby, both Calixta and Melvin are overwhelmed with a feeling that changes their reality as well as a way of thinking.

Conclusion

Both The Storm and As Good as it Gets are two works of art, which raise an important issue of love power and its impact on people’s choices and behavior. While the two works share a similar theme, the manifestation of feelings, their influence on the characters differs. In Chopin’s short story, passion forces Calixta to thoughtlessly rush into the arms of temptation and undergo the feeling she has restrained during the years of her marriage. Unlike the emotion depicted in The Storm, the main character of As Good as it Gets experiences transformation from an angered man into a caring and sensitive person, who is able to feel love and sympathy to other people. At the same time, The Storm and As Good as it Gets are two powerful and thought-provoking works that force the audience to ponder on the vital issues. Moreover, the two works can be regarded as role models for the viewers. However, it is a choice of each person whether to follow these role models or not. Therefore, The Storm and As Good as it Gets are two entertaining works, which provide the viewers with important life lessons.

 

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