Feminism in the Awakening by Kate Chopin

1399 Words6 Pages
Kate Chopin boldly uncovered an attitude of feminism to an unknowing society in her novel The Awakening. Her excellent work of fiction was not acknowledged at the time she wrote it because feminism had not yet come to be widespread. Chopin rebelled against societal norms (just like Edna) of her time era and composed the novel, The Awakening, using attitudes of characters in favor to gender, variations in the main character, descriptions and Edna's suicide to show her feminist situation. Society during Chopin's time era alleged women to be a feeble, dependent gender whose place laid nothing above mothering and housekeeping. In The Awakening, Chopin conveys the simple attitudes of society toward women mainly through her characters Leonce, Edna, Madame Ratignolle, and Madame Reisz. She uses Leonce and Madame Ratignolle to depict examples of what was considered adequate in society. In a critical essay written by Emily Toth, she states that "The Awakening is a story of what happens when a woman does not accept her place in the home. The novel moves us because it illustrates the need for women's psychological, physical, social, and sexual emancipation--the goals of feminists in the twentieth century as well as the nineteenth" (Toth). However, Chopin takes account of the opposing characters of Edna and Madame Reisz in a determination to express desires and wants concealed by the female gender. Leonce Pontellier, Edna's husband, is portrayed as the classic male of the time era and a "businessman twelve years her senior" (Toth). Leonce thinks of Edna to be not much more than another one of his sophisticated belongings and a companion who should be ready and enthusiastic to talk on his level, at any time. In the beginning the novel, Leon... ... middle of paper ... ...he only way she could free herself from societal limitations was to remove her own self from society completely, and by ending her life. Just as Edna did not obey to the morals of her peers, Kate Chopin defied her own peers by writing the novel, The Awakening. She uses attitudes of characters in her novel, changes in Edna and then ultimately her suicide to express her own feminist assertions. Chopin was rejected from societies as a result of her resilient feministic point-of-views and her great ability to show them through her writing. In an article written by Katherine Patterson, she explains "Edna Pontellier ultimately fails to overthrow the crushing burdens of a patriarchal society because she fails to turn an introspective eye and take responsibility for her own identity; instead, she simply seeks escape from the oppression she so keenly observes" (Patterson).
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