The Awakening By Kate Chopin Essay

The Awakening By Kate Chopin Essay

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Stephen Greenblatt addresses culture as “The ensemble of beliefs and practices that form a given culture function as a pervasive technology of control, a set of limits within which social behavior must be contained, a repertoire of models to which individuals must conform.” (Greenblatt 1) Here, what Greenblatt is attempting to convey is that culture is the set or collection of expectations that a group or  society assigns and enforces. For example a society may express its beliefs and expectations about the role of a woman or a child, what is appropriate to wear, how one should act, and so on.
Furthermore, Greenblatt mentions the importance of boundaries. Addressing the boundaries, Greenblatt states that culture limits social behavior and enforces the expectations, awarding those who comply with their views. This implicit rule about following what society thinks and sees as right impacts the characters and constricts their decisions. In The Awakening by Kate Chopin, the main characters, Edna Pontellier and Robert Lebrun, are trapped by the enforcement of cultural boundaries, such as the constraints on love and gender roles and  the importance of reputations in their societies.
A free spirited woman, Edna Pontellier wants just one thing, freedom. Wanting to get away from her family and explore the rest of the world Edna marries Leoncé Pontellier. In fact Edna’s lack of feelings for Leoncé is established when she states, “He [Leoncé] pleased her, his absolute devotion flattered her… Add to this the violent opposition of her father and her sister Margaret with her marriage to a Catholic, and we need seek no further for the motives which led her to accept Monsieur Pontellier for her husband.” (Chopin 18) This quote demonstrates Edna...


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...ions as a structure of limits, it also functions as the regulator and guarantor of movement. Indeed the limits are virtually meaningless without movement; it is only through improvisation, experiment, and exchange that cultural boundaries can be established.” (Stephen 5) Here, Greenblatt asserts that without people pushing against the boundaries and testing out the limits there would not be any boundaries or limits.  Although Edna viewed her children as a responsibility that Fate had given her and an entity of her life that she could not change and did not have control over, Edna did not hesitate to push against society’s standards and manage motherhood and her roles of a mother and wife her own way. Therefore revealing that the text as a whole worked as a mechanism of constraint due to Edna’s struggle to form  to the ideals and her battle to push against the models.

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