Defining Feminism in Chopin's "The Awakening" Book Review by Nicky

Defining Feminism in Chopin's "The Awakening"
A look at how Kate Chopin's novel, "The Awakening", defines feminism.
# 149478 | 927 words | 0 sources | 2011 | US
Published on Dec 19, 2011 in Literature (American) , Women Studies (Women and Society)

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This paper discusses the definition of feminism and the goals of the movement as further exemplified in Kate Chopin's novel, "The Awakening." According to the paper, the feminist struggle has been fought largely in an attempt to establish an individual sense of identity that is not dependent on gender. This is seen the conflict faced by the protagonist in Chopin's novel, Edna Pontellier. The paper notes that the novel is primarily concerned with Edna Pontellier's attempts to find and define herself, and her "awakening" to the realities of her identity as a woman in the early years of the twentieth century. The paper describes the characters from whom Edna must escape, namely her husband and children. The paper concludes by stating that "The Awakening" is about a woman having the ability and the opportunity to choose an identity, whatever it may be.

From the Paper:

"Nothing makes this more apparent than the famous (or infamous, at the time of the book's publication) ending of the novel, in which Edna Pontellier divests herself of her clothing and her life as she wades out into the ocean and succumbs to drowning. The way in which the water is described reflects the importance of identity and one's ability to carve it out in this novel: "The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude" (Chopin, ch. 39). The "abysses of solitude" that are so inviting to Edna at this point can be seen as a sort of freedom--she has spent almost her entire life (and the bulk of the novel) as a fixture in other people's lives, defined by her external roles rather than by any sort of developed sense of interiority. She awakens to this interiority during the course of the novel, but realizes that her desires and her sense of self are incompatible with societies construct, and she seeks the freedom of solitude in the sea, and in death."

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