Did you ever wonder what it was like for a woman to live in the 1800’s? Like in any other decade, there were many memorable events that influenced the writers of this era, but for women writers, this era was characterized by feminism and the fight for women’s rights. Writers like Kate Chopin brought most of the feminist issues to the light through books such as hers, The Awakening. Kate Chopin had a difficult childhood, in which she lost most of her family members. When she began writing, she revealed beliefs of movement of leaders about rights of women. Critics say Chopin based most of the characters in her books on leaders of the movement, on herself, and on regular women of her time.
Elizabeth Fox Genovese of Emory University shared in a PBS interview that “She [Kate Chopin] was very important as one of the earliest examples of modernism in the United States or, if you wish, the cutting edge of modernism in American literature” (PBS – Interviews). Kate Chopin published At Fault, her first novel, in 1890 and The Awakening, her last novel, in 1898 (Guilds 924). During these years Chopin wrote numerous other works and most, like At Fault and The Awakening, centered around upper-middle class Creole or French women involved in womanly uncertainties; such as, extramarital affairs, acceptable behavior in society for females, duties as a wife, responsibilities as a mother, and religious beliefs. Chopin was an extraordinary woman, and no indication was made, during the investigation of this research paper, reflecting her having regrets regarding her position as a wife or mother. This document is an attempt at comparing the issues the main characters experienced and presenting Chopin’s unique skill in writing about the culture she observed during her years of living in Louisiana. The tragedy of this author’s existence is that during her life the literary world did not recognize such exceptional skill.
...edicating herself to any of the available social roles leads her to abandon all of them in favor of an enticing yet ever elusive freedom” (Ramos 147). Arguably, Kate Chopin used realist writing such as The Awakening to break through the barriers built up by society’s image of male superiority and female acquiescence and push American literature deeper into an era of modernity.
In 1899, an author by the name Kate Chopin wrote a novel called The Awakening. The inspiration for the novel came from Chopin’s experience in her own life. At a young age of about five years old Chopin’s father passed away, leaving her with only independent female role models in her life. Due to the lack of a male presence, Kate Chopin was not accustomed to the late nineteenth century lifestyle where women faced male domination and the submission of themselves. The Awakening received a large amount of attention from the public but it was not positive attention. The novel has been challenged twice and has been removed from shelves due to the contents of the reading being “morbid, vulgar, and disagreeable” (Koloski, Kate Chopin Biography) to the nineteenth century.
She lived in the 1800’s where gender roles were stricter, and women had no choice but to be housewives because laws were made to insure that men were always the head of the household. Chopin was one of the woman who disagreed with the gender roles that society as created for woman. In The Awakening Chopin addresses the issue of how society creates a mold of a perfect mother, wife, and woman. In reality not all women are able to fit that mold. Chopin uses characterization, symbolism, tone, and irony to show that women don’t have to shape themselves into in the societal mold. They can create their own perfect mold, and they can still be a perfect mother, wife, and woman. Just like her main character
Edna Pontellier’s character in The Awakening has been the source of the novel’s controversial assessment by critics since it’s publication in 1899. The author, Kate Chopin, officially began writing in 1885 and composed novels that challenged the many conflicting social standards in that time period. The late 1800s, predominantly known for the Industrial Revolution, served as a beacon of opportunity for women during this era. Chopin wrote The Awakening to be used as an instrument to eradicate the accepted impression of gender roles in society: women are more than submissive tools to their oppressive counterparts in this masculine dominated world. Chopin’s ideology originated from the lessons and wisdom of her great-grandmother who encouraged her to read unconventional concepts: women were capable of obtaining and maintaining a successful career as well as a thriving family and social life. Although The Awakening was widely banned and condemned in national presses, critics cannot deny the underlying theme of sexism and its effect on gender roles. Some critics even suggest there is a distinct correlation between Edna’s character and Chopin herself. According to critics, Kate Chopin encumbers The Awakening with incidents of a single woman's hunger for personal and sexual identity as a mechanism to display Edna Pontellier’s deviations from societal standards.
Breaking away from society’s “so-called” customs/norms incorporates a large array of valor, inspiration, and most importantly, individuality. Society places normalities upon its people in order to maintain stability and often times, tradition. More specifically, gender roles, such as women raising children; men being the only source of profit, must also be broken in order to establish uniqueness and distinction in a conventional- themed culture, such as Victorian society. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is perhaps the only novel that fully illustrates the struggle that is leaving Victorian ideals and tradition from a woman’s perspective. Although often considered a feminist text, The Awakening can be viewed as a novel that depicts and promotes individuality using symbolism. Instead of plastering readers with dull literalism, Chopin uses symbols, such birds and music, to relay subtle ideas. Within each fictive part, Chopin provides symbolism that readers must comprehend in order to appreciate the novel as a whole.
Kate Chopin is an American writer of the late nineteenth century. She is known for her depictions of southern culture and of women's struggles for freedom. At this time in American history, women did not have a voice of their own and according to custom, they were to obey their father and husband. Generally, many women agreed to accept this customary way of life. Kate Chopin thought quite differently. The boldness Kate Chopin takes in portraying women in the late nineteenth century can be seen throughout The Awakening and other short stories. The following is an overview of her dramatic writing style.
The novel The Awakening written by Kate Chopin details the life of a married woman living in a society dominated by men. The novel contains three main female characters, namely Edna Pontellier, Mademoiselle Reisz, and Madame Ratignolle. Each woman is unique, with their own set of peculiar characteristics and beliefs. With thus said, I believe that do to their differing of characteristics and abilities, critics cannot condemn these characters for failing to live up to their individual potential. Each character faces differing challenges, both from inside and out. As a result, one cannot judge these women as not living their life to the “fullest”. It is of my belief that the female characters in the novel do live up to their maximum potential.
Kate Chopin is known for her short stories and poems that shine light on women during the late 19th century who were facing issues such as being a wife and a mother while their husbands were always away from home. She could relate to those issues because she was facing it herself, having seven children with a man who use to be rich but left her with the debt she had to pay herself when he died. Chopin was born February 1850 and spent her time as a feminist and married Oscar Chopin who soon died in 1882 and also leaving Kate in what is considered now $420,000 in debt. By the 1890s Kate started to focus writing short stories and then wrote a wonderful novel in 1899 called The Awakening which is her second novel right after At Fault. Soon she became a frontrunner in feminism during the last few years of the 19th century.