In ‘The Unexpected’ the relationship between Randall and Dorothea us clearly, and cleverly presented to us. The poem is written and based around Kate Chopins, the authors, life. These years were from 1851-1904. Dorothea is presented as a mighty, and strong willed character, who wants her own way all the time. She makes the sudden and independent decision not to marry Randall, because of his abrupt change in his physicality.
The couple were inseparable in their relationship as we know by it saying “the enforced separation seemed to them too cruel an ordeal to bear”, which almost shows them being physically wrenched apart. The first paragraph can be summed up as a very negatively written one, with many negative words written in it.
Their relationship remained very close, and passionate, after Randall was called away. “He was to return at the close of the month. Daily letters, impassioned and interminable passed between them”, declares some hints that something might be wrong with Randall, and the quote also shows us what might be the beginning of the end of the relationship. “But this was a stubborn cold, that seemed not to yield to familiar treatment”, shows the clues of a long illness, and that the illness could have been targeted upon him.
The writer starts off the fifth paragraph, by explaining Dorothea’s contradiction. She says “and if her parents had permitted, she surely would have hastened to the bedside of her beloved”, which is ironic, because as we learn later in the poem, she has the chance to do this, but she refuses and is very stubborn about the fact that she doesn’t want to.
Dorothea starts to change her tone when it says “Dorothea had reached the limit of her endurance”. This shows that she is getting fed up now of Randall’s long absence, and doubts are starting to emerge in her mind, however these doubts are still very small and don’t take hold until she sees his physical appearance when he returns.
When Dorothea describes Randall, she says “an almost perfect specimen of youthful health, strength and manly beauty”. This explains the physical attraction she has of Randall. However a we read on, it seems like this is the only attraction Dorothea sees in Randall, or men in particular. The inside of people doesn’t seem to appeal to Dorothea, which is interesting as she said “she would not seem shocked (at Randall’s withered appearance)”. As we learn later, these words are for nothing as she goes against everything she says and doesn’t want to see Randall again. The thought occurs in the reader’s mind that Dorothea is trying to reassure herself – lying in the process to herself – that Randall will come back the same way as he left, looks wise.
When Randall returns to Dorothea, the whole paragraph describes his illness and imagery which shows that he is prepare to give everything for her. “All the strength of his body had concentrated in the clasp (with Dorothea)”. This shows his love for Dorothea, and also his willingness to give everything for her. Adjectives like “tottering”, “exhausted” and “panted” show the full extent of Randall’s injuries and well being. After Dorothea’s comments before, the reader would expect Dorothea to return this love to Randall, but this doesn’t happen.
The following paragraph describes Dorothea’s shocking thoughts about Randall. Her true person come out as what she had said before turns out to be totally empty. “This was not the man who had gone away” is one of her thoughts that goes totally against to what she had thought before. It seems obvious now that she had been lying to herself before. She thinks of many “devilish transformations” of Randall, listing them, like “His eyes were sunken; his features pinched and prominent; and his clothing hung loosely upon his wasted frame”. She is finding fault after fault in Randall’s now, and it is interesting to see that all the faults named are that of his physical appearance. No thoughts of his love for her even crosses Dorothea’s mind, and it seems evident that she only loved Randall for his physical appearance before, and for nothing else.
The alliteration of “shuddering, shrinking, shriveling” is effective as it shows Dorothea’s love for Randall is wasting away, or perhaps just wasted away.
Randall becomes the most passionate he has been when it says ” Then he held her in his arms with what seemed to be a frenzy of passion”. However any chance of Dorothea changing her mind about Randall evaporates here as it says “She attempted to withdraw from his embrace. She begged him not to think of it, and tried to convince him it was impossible.” This shows her plan of escape, as soon as possible, and also showing us that she is trying to soften the blow for Randall. “And to herself she was saying “never, never, never,” also shows Dorothea’s fear and obstinate feelings in this matter.
Whilst it does seem obvious she only cares for the physical side in a man, and not the personality side, at least she does not have the indecency to tell Randall her true feelings, and attempts soften the blow for him.
Randall goes on attempting to be optimistic about everything, but his physicality won’t allow this state. “He ended with a laugh that dies away in a cough” shows this, and how any attempt of niceties to Dorothea went wrong with more signs of physical weakness.
When it says “She was glad there was no one present to compel her to speak” it shows that maybe there was a sense of shame and guilt in Dorothea’s thoughts here toward what was happening with herself and Randall here.
“An was fleeing as if Death itself himself pursued her” are Dorothea’s thoughts about this when she leaves Randall, with a strong image if death being personified created. It also shows that Dorothea was almost comparing Randall to such an intrepid image.
When Dorothea thinks “How far, and how long did she go? She did not know; she did not care”, it shows that she is so hurrying for an escape from Randall, that she does not even have an escape route planned. It is also incredible to see how much Dorothea and Randall had grown apart in that short visit. They are now seen as opposites, whilst they seem to have been well matched before.
The closing paragraph is interesting as it shows that Dorothea hadn’t been persuaded by the money offered by Randall, if they were to marry. “‘Never!’ she whispered, ‘not for all his thousands! Never, never! not for his millions!” A little extra respect is returned to Dorothea here as she wasn’t interested in the money, just the man himself. However, it does seem that Dorothea is only interested in the physicality of a man, and nothing else, including personality and wealth!