Emotional Expectations For Women In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

analytical Essay
1994 words
1994 words

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is a story about a well to do young woman, Edna Pontellier, who lives with her family in Louisiana during the late 1890’s. Set in a variety of scenes, it follows Edna as she engages on a personal journey of increasing autonomy, continually seeking both greater happiness and greater personal independence in the hope of leading a more meaningful and fulfilling life. In so doing, the novel portrays societal expectations for women in the post-war South during the late 1800’s, and shows the difficulties they faced if they refused to conform. The place of women in society can be seen in the way that the women in the novel act and speak, particularly in regards to their husbands and children, but also to others in general. …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how kate chopin's the awakening portrays societal expectations for women in the post-war south during the late 1800’s.
  • Analyzes how edna's refusal to marry her sister janet causes her to quarrel with her father, who reproaches her for her lack of filial kindness and respect. she violates the unwritten but widely understood ethos of postbellum, southern womanhood
  • Analyzes how the novel portrays women as being under a duty to be active in social life and all of its attendant functions.
  • Analyzes how edna tells mademoiselle ratignolle that she would not sacrifice herself for her children, sparking a heated argument.
  • Opines that the most significant duty of women in the novel is the requirement to be loyal, obedient wives who obey their husbands and prioritize their happiness.
  • Narrates how edna pontellier's sudden disregard for her duties as a wife shocked him and angered him.
  • Analyzes how edna's lack of tacit submissiveness bewilders, shocks, and angers him, causing him to upbraid her for failure to act as expected. sarah bommarito commented on the role of women at the time.
  • Analyzes how edna responds to this by engaging in willful rebellion, asserting her own desires over and against the expectations that others – both individually (i.e., léonce) and collectively (society as a whole) have for her.
  • Analyzes how edna's response begins after hearing mademoiselle reisz play the piano, and then intensifies as she learns to swim, which causes her to undergo an emotional awakening — hence the title.
  • Analyzes edna's desire for greater personal autonomy and emotional gratification as the novel progresses.
  • Analyzes how edna's relationship with robert lebrun serves as the underlying force in her experience, both at the beginning and throughout.

Hence the following excerpt from Chapter Ten: “A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul” (53). Or again, speaking of the matter to Robert, she says that “A thousand emotions have swept through me tonight” and “I don’t comprehend half of them” (55). This awakening bears immediate fruit, for when Léonce later appears and attempts to command her to do as he wishes by coming inside she resists …show more content…

It serves as the underlying force in her experience, both at the beginning and all throughout. When she first learns to swim it is a result of Robert recommending a plunge (51) and having given her many lessons (52), and he is there with her after her moment of triumph, playing the dutiful friend (54). When he announces plans to leave she is devastated by the bewildering news (79), and for much of the remainder of the novel desperately seeks any news she can catch of him, inquiring of Robert’s mother, Mademoiselle Reisz (whom Robert writes on occasion; 119), and even her own husband (90). Near the end of the novel Edna confesses her love to him and admits to this, saying “I love you, only you, no one but you. It was you who awoke me last summer out of a lifelong stupid dream” (207). And it is this, alas, which brings both her awakening and her very life to an end. Robert returns from Mexico and is on the cusp of acquiescing to her sensuous entreaties to be her man, but experiences a change of heart and refuses to commit adultery with her, telling her that his love for her forbids it (215). It is at this moment, when the final consummation of happiness seems at hand and is then irrevocably thwarted, that her endeavor for independence and being true to herself comes to an end. Having attempted to live by her own desires and dictates, and to achieve happiness with Robert,

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