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The Controlling Men of The Awakening Essay

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The Grand Isle society and inhabitants put great expectations on its women to belong to their men and be secondary to their children. Throughout Kate Chopin's dramatic novel The Awakening, she tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a woman who throughout the story tries to find herself using various different methods until it leads to her untimely demise. Kate Chopin tries to make the women look more as possessions rather than people. Edna Pontellier's society, therefore, flourishes with "mother-women," who "idolized their children, worshipped their husbands, and esteemed it to a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals" (12). Throughout the story, Chopin presents a contrast in her male characters. She depicts Leonce as a good husband capable of great things but one who is oblivious to his wife’s needs. Alcee Arobin as a make who recognizes Edna’s physical (animalistic) needs in a relationship, and Robert as a sensitive male who understands Edna’s thoughts and feelings but also realizes that he cannot have Edna because she is one of Leonce’s possessions, therefore leaving him at a crossroad. Throughout the book the men have a lasting effect on Edna, thus controlling her and preventing her from gaining her independence she tries so hard to obtain.
Leonce Pontellier is the typical Creole man and husband that one would find during this period. He believes that women should only work and live for the well being of their family. "He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children. If it was not a mother's place to look after children, whose on earth was it? He himself had his hands full with his brokerage business" (77) Leonce thought of himself as a great husband, but being the male he wants hi...


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...ifferent. Similar to the heroine, the story has a tragic ending for the main characters. Leonce is the least effected by Edna’s death because he has too many other things to worry about such as his children and his business. Alcee will definitely miss Edna but it is believed that his attention will be focused to a new female shortly, and Edna will be forgotten. Robert will take her suicide the hardest, because he really loved her. He will believe that he was the reason for her death and, will hold some guilt, and mourn the longest. He was the most compassionate and loving male in this book and when Kate Chopin was writing the Awakening, she wanted more males to become more like Robert and have the same principles and standards. Robert is who men should want to model themselves as. Kate Chopin shows diversity in her 3 main, as they are the typical men of this era.



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