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The Awakening by Kate Chopin - Research Paper Example

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Professor number Kate Chopin's most important work, The Awakening, shall be looked into and analyzed in this paper. As part of this research, the inadequacies of the feminism that Chopin advocates through her female protagonist, Edna Pontellier shall be looked into…
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The Awakening by Kate Chopin
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Download file to see previous pages The controversial ending of the novel shall also be looked into and problematized. Its implications and how it shapes the critic’s response to the character shall be analyzed in this paper. Critical responses drawn from famous essays on The Awakening shall shape the views put forth by this paper which shall be sought to be modified and incorporated. These views shall be used to support and further the arguments that shall be put forth in this paper. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Kate Chopin’s work, at the time of its publication (the late nineteenth century), created quite a stir. It was one of the first novels that portrayed a woman, comfortably placed in life, who chooses to rebel against the lack of choice that life presents her with. Chopin’s protagonist, Edna Pontellier, is a woman who is married to a wealthy businessman, who according to a patriarchal society, would be considered to be a dutiful and loving husband. He provides Edna with every material comfort imaginable and is a very caring husband; still, Edna chooses to rebel. Conservative reviewers of the time could not digest such an action by the protagonist of a well-known author. Edna’s rebellion, however, is not against the comforts that her life provides her; it is against a system that refuses to accord her the kind of respect that she feels she deserves: that which is given by the society to an artist, a respect different in its nature from that which was provided to a woman merely for the fulfillment of maternal and wifely duties. Critics like Margo Culley have talked about how Edna is a “solitary soul” (Culley 247). She talks of how Edna’s solitude leads her to explore new areas of activity that eventually lead to her sexual awakening. This leads her to enter into relationships with other men, in what she initially believes to be steps that are liberating. However, she later realizes that she represented nothing but a conquest for men like Alcee Arobin. This, Culley remarks, forces her back to her solitude that follows a recognition of the failure of both forms of awakening, social and sexual, to free her from the oppressive social framework that she inhabits. Edna’s awakenings are thus always accompanied by a disillusionment with the mode of awakening that she adopts. This problem needs to be analyzed at length. Going over the main events of the novel might be helpful, in this regard. Edna Pontellier, disillusioned with her life as a married woman who seeks fulfillment only through her roles as a wife and mother, distances herself from her husband and from her motherly duties. She undergoes a sexual awakening that leads her to extra-marital affairs that fail to fulfill her needs. She moves into another house in order to lead what she considers an independent life. This attempt too, fails her. She eventually commits suicide, driven to desperation by her failed attempts to attain respectability in a society that refused to provide women with it. Edna’s problem can be seen as the problem of a woman who fails to break out of the life that she creates for herself. In as much as this is true, Edna is as much of a culprit as the society. Edna, throughout the novel, is unwilling to break free of the luxuries that life provide for her. Even when she chooses to move into a new apartment, she does so using her inheritance from her father, which is again, patriarchal wealth, part of a social system that Edna tries to break out, in the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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