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Essay about The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin is one of the first female writers to address female issues,
primarily sexuality. Chopin declares that women are capable of overt sexuality in which they explore and enjoy their sexuality. Chopin shows that her women are capable of loving more than one man at a time. They are not only attractive but sexually attracted (Ziff 148). Two of Chopin’s stories that reflect this attitude of sexuality are The Awakening and one of her short stories “The Storm”. Although critics now acclaim these two stories as great accomplishments, Chopin has been condemned during her life for writing such vulgar and risqué pieces. In 1899 Chopin publishes The Awakening. She is censured for its “positively unseemly” theme (Kimbel 91). Due to the negative reception of The Awakening Chopin never tries to publish “The Storm”. She feels that the literary establishment can not accept her bold view of human sexuality (Kimbel 108). Chopin definitely proves to be an author way ahead of her time.

The Awakening is considered to be Chopin’s best work as well as a unlikely novel to be written during the 1890s in America. The Awakening is a story about a woman, Edna Pontelier, who is a conventional wife and mother. Edna experiences a spiritual awakening in the sense of independence that changes her life. Edna Pontellier begins her awakening at the Grand Isle when she is 28 years old. She has been married for ten years, and she has two children. This situation proves to be different from the male characters of most other novels because they almost always do not have to face the complications of marriage and parenthood to reach self-determination (Bogarad 159). Chopin is able to portray this awakening through Edna’s rela...


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...tury Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon
Hall. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. 150-54. 76 vols.

Skaggs, Peggy. Kate Chopin (1985): 130p. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed.
Thomas Votteler. Vol. 8. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1991.
88-102. 29 vols.

Spangler, George M. “Neglected Fiction: Kate Chopin’s ‘The Awakening’: A
Partial Dissent.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction (1970): 249-55. Rpt. in
Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon Hall. Vol. 5. Detroit:
Gale Research Company, 1981. 154-55. 76 vols.

Ziff, Larzer. “An Abyss of Inequality: Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Wilkins
Freeman, Kate Chopin.” The American 1890s: Life and Times of a Lost
Generation (1966): 275-305. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary
Criticism. Ed. Sharon Hall. Vol.5. Detroit: Gale Research Company,
1981. 148-49.


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