A Feminist Reading of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"
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The paper relates that "The Awakening" is considered to be a finely crafted narrative of a woman's conflict between individual autonomy and social conformity, and shows how throughout the story, Chopin offers us examples of how women should and should not act in society - the public sphere - as well as in the private sphere of their homes with their husbands and children. The paper describes how in the society that Edna has become a part of, women are supposed to worship their husbands, adore their children, and honor their restricted roles as women. The paper goes on to explain how Edna's suicide represents, in a rather ironic way, an assertion of independence and freedom. The paper also notes that Chopin's breaking away from the convention of literary domesticity with "The Awakening" is quite similar to Edna's breaking away from the conventional feminine roles of wife and mother.
From the Paper:"The Awakening, written in 1899, was Kate Chopin's third novel. The story begins at the pension of Mme. Lebrun on Grand Isle, where Edna Pontellier, a twenty-nine year old mother and wife, is vacationing with her children, Raoul and Etienne. Her husband, Leonce Pontellier is a business brokerage worker in New Orleans and he joins the family on the weekends. Adele Ratignolle is also there with her children. Adele is the epitome of the perfect mother and woman, "the self-effacing species of nest-makers dominating the island" (Seyersted 134). Edna is nothing like Adele; though she loves her children, she feels that motherhood is "a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and for which Fate had not fitted her" (Chopin 20).
"It is not only that Edna feels out of touch with motherhood, she also feels out of touch with her environment. Edna was born in Kentucky to Presbyterian parents and she is the only American in this all-Creole, Catholic group from the Vieux Carre; despite the fact that Leonce is one of the Creoles, she still feels as if she were an outsider. The Creoles lack prudence, which is something quite foreign to Edna, though she reconciles it with the "lofty chastity which in the Creole woman seems to be inborn and unmistakable" (Chopin 10)."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. Second edition. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2002. Print.
- Chametzky, Jules. "Our Decentralized Literature." Jahrbuch fur Amerikastudien. 1972. Print. (in W. Martin New Essays on The Awakening, 1988).
- Chopin, Kate. & Solomon, Barbara H. The Awakening and Selected Stories of Kate Chopin. (Signet Classics). New York: Signet Classics, 1976. Print.
- Martin, Wendy. New Essays on The Awakening. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
- Ringe, Donald A. "Romantic Imagery in Kate Chopin's The Awakening." American Literature, 43. 1972. Print. (in W. Martin's New Essays on The Awakening, 1988).
Cite this Analytical Essay:
A Feminist Reading of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" (2013, May 02) Retrieved February 24, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/a-feminist-reading-of-kate-chopin-the-awakening-153053/
"A Feminist Reading of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"" 02 May 2013. Web. 24 February. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/a-feminist-reading-of-kate-chopin-the-awakening-153053/>