Essay on An Analysis Of Andrew Delbanco 's Was Kate Chopin A Feminist?

Essay on An Analysis Of Andrew Delbanco 's Was Kate Chopin A Feminist?

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An Analysis of Andrew Delbanco’s “Was Kate Chopin a Feminist?”
“…she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world” (Chopin 95).
At the heart of many works of fiction, and indeed of many real-life pursuits, is a recognition of and a confrontation of society as an oppressive force. This can take many forms, from coming-of-age challenges of parental authority, to challenges of institutionalized injustice or inequality. The latter is present in Kate Chopin’s 1899 novella The Awakening, wherein the crux of protagonist Edna Pontellier’s internal conflict is a realization that expectations about her responsibilities as a woman are unfair and undesirable. The above quote notes Edna’s reaction to this internal conflict; she shrugs off her “fictitious self,” the ideal woman that others want her to be, and gradually but persistently becomes a more genuine version of herself. Immediately, the novel’s theme of challenging what it means to be a woman evokes thoughts of the feminist movement; unsurprisingly, much of The Awakening can be interpreted as feminist literature.
In his article “Was Kate Chopin a Feminist?”, Andrew Delbanco has attempted to analyze Chopin’s work in order to determine whether the author could rightfully be classified as a part of that movement. While Delbanco comes to the logical conclusion that, at least under the assumption that her beliefs are represented in her work, Kate Chopin is in fact a feminist, the article’s jumbled construction, subjective style, and irrelevant rambling make it hard even for those of similar opinion to feel either supported or convinced by Delbanco himself.
Andrew Delbanco’s assertion is that Kate Chop...


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...sets her free from patriarchy, while also unselfishly sacrificing her life for her children. Delbanco writes that Edna despairs “at not having found a third way between the alternatives of submission and emulation,” but this death, in fact, is the third way.
Andrew Delbanco poses a much-discussed question about author Kate Chopin; while it’s clear that she is a feminist, this information does not come from Delbanco, who largely missed the point in his article. The Awakening serves as an inspirational work because it allows the generally unexceptional protagonist, Edna, to become a heroine through what could be seen as martyrdom. She dies for her children, a type of self-sacrifice that is valued in her time and society, but she also dies so that those who read her story can see the trapping effects of patriarchy in a society in which the only freedom lies in death.

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