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Awakening the Woman Inside

Powerful Essays
In the late 1800s, a crusade began that campaigned for the rights of women across America: the Feminist Movement. Using this movement as inspiration, Kate Chopin bewitches her primarily female readers with a writing style that emphasizes the importance of emotion and encourages the independence of women in a world dominated by men. In her novel, The Awakening, Chopin flawlessly illustrates the radical yet alluring character transformation of her protagonist, Edna Pontellier, as she struggles to surmount marital and societal conflict in the hopes of being reborn.

To fully grasp The Awakening, it is important to understand both into the life of Kate Chopin and the time period in which it was published. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Chopin was raised by her mother’s extended French family after her father’s death in a train accident. Her great grandmother expressed a special fascination with Kate’s advancement into womanhood and ensured that Kate understood “how women’s lives were split between responsibility and desire and the significance of women being independent” (Toth 13, 15). These lessons were not lost on Kate, and they materialize throughout her writing which focuses on the struggles of women in a world dominated by men. When The Awakening was being written, “the Feminist movement was just beginning, and many female authors were writing pieces about the improvement of women’s social conditions; however, unlike these women, Chopin did not limit her exploration of freedom to physical emancipation, but also intellectual autonomy” (Guernsey 46). It was this exploration of women’s independence which created turbulence in the literary community when The Awakening was published in 1899. Unfortunately, Chopin was ahead of her time, ...

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...Chopin’s character, Edna Pontellier, serves as a reminder that if a suburban housewife can seize and transform her destiny so too can the rest of womankind.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Vol. C. N.p.:

Wadsworth, 2010. 425-515. Print.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1993. Print.

Golding, William. Kate Chopin, Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House Publishers,

1987. Print.

Guernsey, JoAnn Bren. Voices of Feminism: Past, Present, and Future. Minneapolis, MN:

Lerner Publications, 1996. Print.

Jones, Suzanne W. “Place, Perception, and Identity in the Awakening.” Perspectives on Kate

Chopin. Natchitoches, Louisiana: Northwestern State University Press, 1990. 59-74. Print.

Toth, Emily. Unveiling Kate Chopin. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999. Print.
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