In the novella The Awakening by Kate Chopin, the main character Edna Pontellier “becomes profoundly alienated from traditional roles required by family, country, church, or other social institutions and is unable to reconcile the desire for connection with others with the need for self-expression” (Bogard). The novella takes place in the South during the 1800’s when societal views and appearances meant everything. There were numerous rules and expectations that must be upheld by both men and women, and for independent, stubborn, and curious women such as Edna, this made life challenging. Edna expressed thoughts and goals far beyond her time that made her question her role in life and struggle to identify herself, which caused her to break societal conventions, damage her relationships, and ultimately lose everything.
“Edna began to feel like one who awakens gradually out of a dream, a delicious, grotesque, impossible dream, to feel again the realities oppressing into her soul.” (Pg. 42) In Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening the constant boundaries and restrictions placed on Edna Pontellier by society will lead to her struggle for freedom and her ultimate suicide. Her husband Leonce Pontellier, the current women of society, and the Grand Isle make it evident that Edna is trapped in a patriarchal society.
In the novel The Awkening written by Kate Chopin, mother and wife, Edna is freeing herself of her husband, Leonce only to become dependant on another man,Robert.Edna has a difficult time being on her own and does not appreciate how much her husband loves and cares for her.Instead she feels that independance comes from not fullfilling the responsibilities of being a mother and being unfaithful to her husband.These are not the qualities of a feminist but rather of a selfish person.The Awakening is not the best example of a feminist novel because it does not truly showcase a woman’s independance.
Women determine their success through a variety of factors, such as their kids, their friends, their career, and their state of living. Many women want to be independent and self-sufficient, while others want to be a homemaker and stay at home with their family. In the novel, The Awakening, the women, who are treated as inferior creatures and as the property of men, focus on their personal and social lives, rather than their professional lives. However, Edna wants to break the societal ideals that determine what a woman does, and she desires to be free to do what she wants, rather than what society wants of her. First, she must break free of her barriers such as the society and her husband.
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.
A Woman's Fight for Independence in The Awakening
Right from the beginning the plot is almost conveniently evident. You find a woman, Edna Pontellier, tired of living her life as a pampered and "owned" wife and mother. She is searching for much more in her life, some sort of meaning for her whole existence. She searches for a long time but in the end, the inevitability of her life's pattern and direction wraps around her, suffocating her. She is overcome with wonder, confusion, and guilt for what she believes and what she does to express her beliefs.
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.
“The Awakening” is a courageous piece of literature work that demonstrates how civilization forced tremendously elevated expectancies for females and their hypothetical roles. Kate Chopin uses this novel to bring those “expected roles” to light. Edith Wharton also shows how this epidemic has restricted and impaired two of the protagonist in her story “Roman Fever”. During the time period that this book was written, in the early nineteenth century, this epidemic of forcing roles on women was widespread, and this altered the lives of these women in an abysmal way incessantly.
The world of both of these women was not easy, as rules, regulations and ‘harmless’ advice from friends, family and strangers were always imposed upon their lives. During the entirety of the 19th century, social norms for women were exceptionally strict; to a point where a woman was chastised for simply walking along the street without a male companion to guard her chastity. The sole job of women was to raise ‘virtuous sons’ for the good of society, while completely abandoning their appetite for the simple pleasures of life. In The Awakening, Adele’s continuous pregnancies rapidly establish her among society as the ‘perfect woman,’ not because of her personality or virtues, but rather because she devotes her body and soul to attending and creating children. In various ways, Adele proves to be a monotonous character whose continuous attendance to her children leave no time for her personal desires, something which Edna is very conscious of. Edna in contrast...
In The Awakening by Kate Chopin, we are able to see a different view of society in the 1890’s.The book relates to the romantic era of the time, which in the book is shown through Edna Pontellier. The role of the women is questioned because of the action of Edna Pontellier and her worldview is different than the average women in the 1890’s. Kate Chopin compares to a sense, Edna and her friend Adèle Ratignolle as the ‘average’ women. The main topics of the romantic era, which shape her worldview is shown throughout the book is nature, rebellion and escape as shown in the lecture by Dr. Szabo.