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The novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin - Essay Example

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Kate Chopin has often been regarded as a feminist writer who wrote many stories centered on female characters. Her novel entitled The Awakening is apt to be included in such a category that it moves through the viewpoint of the main character, Edna Pontellier…
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The novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin
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Thus, in the novel, the author portrays the character of Edna who suffers from gender inequality, isolation, suppressed sexuality, racial discrimination, marital problems, motherhood and social customs. The reader can analyze various topics such as gender crises between Edna and her husband, Edna’s attitude towards motherhood, suppressed sexuality in Edna’s character, marital problems between Edna and her husband, social systems and racial issues that are depicted in the story in a structured way from a feminist perspective. Literary critics have often remarked that Kate Chopin’s novels have inspired the readers to find the glimpses of early feminism in 19th century American society. The whole novel describes the survival of Edna in a male dominating society that never admits women as equal to men. Feminist ideologies and theories always argue for female existence and survival. As Brown comments; “Some feminist argue that the sociology learnt today is sociology of men stating men point of view and therefore the theories and ideas given are biased with the absence of women based theories and ideas” (Brown, 2011). Kate Chopin’s The Awakening provides some elements of feminism through the afflictions and awakening of the protagonist Edna. The story is based on the Pontellier family who come vacationing on Grand isle near Gulf Mexico. The Pontellier family includes Leonce Pontellier, a businessman, his wife Edna and their two sons. Considering the identity crises faced by Edna in the novel The Awakening one can clearly identify the underlying elements of feminism and feminist perspectives in the novel. Edna’s cry for independence and her fight towards male dominating society for existence always inspire the reader to create a feminist perspective. The protagonist Edna Pontellier is struggling to reconcile her ongoing unorthodox concepts on femininity and motherhood with the background of prevailing social attitudes. The problem of gender in equality is visible in Kate Chopin’snovel. Gender and awakening sexuality have shown their importance as underlying themes in the novel The Awakening. In Launce’s opinion women have no independence, no personal self realization, and she must live only for men. He complains that Edna is not well in her womanly duties and act as an irresponsible mother. Here the man shows extreme male chauvinism in its zenith. His never ending frustration and anger against Edna reveals his intolerance. During the time of 1800s, American society had believed that there was a definite disparity between the sexes. In this historical perspective one can see that man is considered as active, dominant, assertive and materialistic than women. Expected to act their personal duties and responsibilities for the health and happiness of their family members, the women in 18th and 19th century American society were blocked from searching the satisfaction of their own personal needs and desires. The eighteenth century American society, on the other hand, attributed its willingness to consider women as individuals who have some domestic duties and responsibilities. In Kate Chopin’s novel reader can find a shift in Edna’s character and attitudes; however, the society often fails to admit her new status. Edna creates an image in her mind about her freedom. Analyzing her conversation between Edna and Mademoiselle Reisz reveals this idea. Mademoiselle Reis ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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The Awakening by Kate Chopin
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