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This paper examines how Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" presents a society dominated by male patriarchy which her protagonist Edna cannot escape from no matter how hard she tries. Edna longs for her own idealised romantic agenda, yet this appears constantly as near unobtainable for her romantic fantasies directly clash with society's expectations of her as a mother and a wife. In particular, the paper discusses how it is in the climax that death is shown to be the ultimate act of agency and how through reflection, we can see this is one of the only ways feminine agency can be truly be unleashed. Through the analysis of these significant factors, as well as the comparison between Edna and Chopin's own life, the paper reaches the conclusion that "The Awakening" features a society where female agency is seen as a near impossible romantic fantasy for women due to the heavy patriarchal control upon them.
From the Paper:"Edna's suicide is perhaps one of the only examples of her unleashing her feminine agency without any male influence or repercussions in Chopin's entire novel; death it appears, leads to agency. Such a statement is obviously true for Edna, when she enters the ocean (representing femininity) from the land (masculinity). "She went on... she did not look back..." (176); Edna is thus showing her rejection for the patriarchy that has dominated her life before and refusing to look back on it any longer, instead embracing her femininity (the sea). Such an analysis allows us as the reader to reach the conclusion that Edna knew her fate when she entered the ocean, because in the society she lives in, one cannot simply reject the patriarchy. However, though Edna's death leads to her taking control and receiving agency, death can lead to agency in another way, exemplified in Madame Lebrun. Her agency resulted in the death of her husband, and through such led to her running her own holiday business in Grand Isle, something she could never do with a husband around. And so Chopin presents to us the bleak notion that feminine (romantic) agency is only obtainable through death. Edna's attempt at trying to follow a romantic agenda is so hard in her society that suicide is seen as the only solution, for otherwise she would be left to be subservient to the patriarchal control surrounding her life."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. London: Penguin, 2003
Cite this Book Review:
Chasing the Impossible Dream: "The Awakening" (2012, February 05) Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/chasing-the-impossible-dream-the-awakening-150382/
"Chasing the Impossible Dream: "The Awakening"" 05 February 2012. Web. 13 August. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/chasing-the-impossible-dream-the-awakening-150382/>