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Kate Chopin's The Awakening

During the late nineteenth century, the time of protagonist Edna Pontellier, a woman's place in society was confined to worshipping her children and submitting to her husband. Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, encompasses the frustrations and the triumphs in a woman's life as she attempts to cope with these strict cultural demands. Defying the stereotype of a "mother-woman," Edna battles the pressures of 1899 that command her to be a subdued and devoted housewife. Although Edna's ultimate suicide is a waste of her struggles against an oppressive society, The Awakening supports and encourages feminism as a way for women to obtain sexual freedom, financial independence, and individual identity.

Feminism is commonly thought of as a tool for educating society on the rights of women. It teaches that a woman is equal to a man in every civil and societal accord. Realizing this is not always the case, Charlotte Bunch, a noted lesbian feminist of the 1970s also defined feminism as "a way of looking at the world - a questioning of power [and] domination issues" (WIE). Many feminists attempt to bulrush the ideals of stereotypical women and push them away from those who believe in these standards. "Feminist scholars also seek to question and transform androcentric [sic] systems of thought which position the male as the norm," says Barbara McManus. They strive to find, examine, and eliminate biases in a world encumbered with intolerant men who see women as thoughtless objects and most certainly not equals. Other women announce their impressive intellect, economic well-being, and individual personalities to the people who oppose them. "A woman should always present herself and explain her forthcoming jaunts into Feminists, like Edna, howe...

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...Barbara F. "Characteristics of a Feminist Approach." December 8, 2001. http://www.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/femcharacteristics.html.

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Ward, Jennifer A. "Deconstruction or Feminist Critique?" December 9, 2001. http://www.geocities.com/athens/acropolis.6998/chopin2.html.

Wear, Delese and Nixon, Lois LaCivita. Literary Anatomies: Women's Bodies and Health in Literature. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Women's Information Exchange. "Feminism Defined." December 7, 2001. http://electrapages.com/FEMINIST.htm

Wood, Ann Douglas. "'The Fashionable Diseases': Women's Complaints and Their Treatment in Nineteenth-Century America." Women and Health in America. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, Ltd., 1984.
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