The Awakening, by Kate Chopin Essay

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin Essay

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In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, a woman's entrapment within a patriarchal society reveals to her the bonds of having to live up the society's standards which further demonstrates the corruption and skewed perspectives of the post-Victorian era. In the novella, Edna Pontellier's, a wife of a rich Creole businessman, sexual and spiritual desires surface themselves which distinguishes a separation between her pursuit of happiness and her responsibilities as a mother and wife. As an oppressed character, she does anything in her power to achieve freedom, no matter how sinful the acts to getting there may be. Chopin employs a critical tone to this manner of behavior yet remains sympathetic to Edna's struggles. The frequently recurring motif of children accentuates Edna's rebellion against her roles as a woman within her community.
At the fin de siecle women still possessed many cultural restraints carrying over from the time of Queen Victoria's reign. The views and ethics of that time period contrasted greatly from that of the previous Georgian period. Victorian morality can be defined as a set of moral values that entail extreme prudery, sexual constraint, low tolerance of crime, and a very strict code of conduct. This suppression gave rise to a large scaled social movement as women began to break apart from their role in society as “mother-women” to achieve independence. Many historian's refer to the this progression as the movement towards the “New Woman.” The name may be paralleled to that of the “New Negro” as it represents a generation that has realized its dehumanized statures in life and began to pursue equality and self-sufficiency. Edna plays the role of the “New Woman” in The Awakening however her actions may be seen as too...


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...ure to achieve her much wanted freedom. She could not willingly or submissively live up to society's standards because her community's expectations seemed just as unjust and immoral as her actions seemed to them. She understood the grand value of life and sought to fulfill it. Edna lived in a time period that just began to recover from the flawed Victorian Age and this became her insurmountable obstacle. It merely took time for people to realize and adapt to the changing ethical values and culture grew more diverse. Today, we face much less discrimination towards women in comparison to the turn of the nineteenth century. Many still acknowledge the corrupt double standards and some prejudice against women but because of women like Edna, humanity has gradually been able to better appreciate and assimilate women into all societies as equals rather than inferior beings.

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