“Editor’s Note: History of the Criticism of The Awakening— Contemporary Reviews.” Kate Chopin, The Awakening. 2nd ed. Ed. Margo Culley. New York: Norton, 1994, 159-73 Papke, Mary E. Verging On the Abyss: The Social Fiction of Kate Chopin and Edith Wharton.
While many women felt dissatisfied with their lives, they would not come out and say it. However, in 1899, Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening, which showed women that they were not alone. This novel showed the discriminatory views and treatment towards women. It also distinctly indicates the dissatisfaction that women felt in their lives. Because of the roles that society has given them, women are not able to seek and fulfill their own psychological and sexual drives.
She used the notion of death and the thought of her father, whom she never got to be acquainted with, in a number of her stories. In The Story of an Hour, she transferred what she felt about the death of her father into the main character, Louise Mallard, from her short story. Mrs. Mallard had just lost her husband in a railroad accident and she knew that she didn’t adore him with all of her heart. Kate Chopin wrote taboo tales that challenged the principles of society. She wrote one of the most unnatural books in American Literature during the Realism Period, The Awakening.
"Thanatos and Eros." A Norton Critical Edition: Kate Chopin: The Awakening. Ed. Margo Culley. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994.
His death is seen as the beginn... ... middle of paper ... ...ge that she does not wish to be in. This woman suffers a tremendous amount from the commitment of her marriage, that the death of her husband does not affect her for long. A marriage such as this seems so unbelievable, yet a reader could see the realistic elements incorporated into the story. This begs the question of how undesirable marriage was during Chopin’s life. The unhappiness felt by Mrs. Mallard seems to be very extreme, but Chopin creates a beautiful story that reflects upon the idea of marriage as an undesired relationship and bond to some women in the nineteenth century.
Paul Lauter, et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Lexington: Heath, 1994.
It is important to note that her stories were written before the feminist movement of the late nineteenth century began. Chopin, a free spirit who would passionately argue with strangers about political and social matters to the dismay of wives in her social circle, was ahead of her time. Unlike Louise Mallard, Chopin became an independent widow after the death of her husband Oscar Chopin, which was considered immoral in her time (Seyersted 62). She did not want to lose her independence and wanted to live for her writing (Seyersted 62). With this in mind, it is odd that Chopin... ... middle of paper ... ...omen faced in such a system.
Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899) who would not allow anyone to possess her, is an example of how the cult of domesticity, prevalent in the nineteenth century, oppressed women as passionless mothers who worship their husbands. While Edna isolates herself from her husband, Leonce, she also isolates herself from her children and, thus, from motherhood. However, Chopin utilizes the motherhood metaphor to illustrate Edna’s own rebirth as she awakens throughout the novel. Exploring Chopin’s tale through feminist literary theory and the cult of domesticity, the metaphor of motherhood through Edna’s own maternity as well as her metaphorical rebirth becomes apparent. Lois Tyson’s text, Critical Theory Today (2006), explains the various theories that are utilized to critique literature and explain plots, themes, and characters.
Strength in Struggle Many readers see the actions of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening as those of a feminist martyr. Edna not only defies her husband and commits adultery, but chooses death over life in a society that will not grant her gender equality. Although this reading may fit, it is misguided in that it ignores a basic aspect of Chopin’s work, the force that causes Mrs. Mallard’s happiness in “The Story of an Hour” upon the news of her husbands death, “that blind persistence in which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin 353). While it is true that when Chopin wrote, women were most likely to be denied the pursuit of individuality, analyzing her work through a strictly gender minded lens limits her impact. The importance of Chopin’s work is the portrayal of characters who are engaged in the pursuit of an idiosyncratic desire.
Ed. Simon Bronner. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. Credo Reference.. Mathews, C. L. (2002). Fashioning the hybrid woman in kate chopin's the awakening.