feminaw Portrayal of Men in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
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The Portrayal of Men in The Awakening
When Kate Chopin develops the male characters in her novel, The Awakening, she portrays men in a very objectionable light. For the most part, her men are possessive, cowardly and self-serving. She seems a trifle unfair and biased in her portrayal of men, yet this view is necessary for Chopin to get her point across. She uses the characters of Mr. Pontellier, Robert, Alcee and a few other men to demonstrate her observations of the middle class man in the society of her day.
Firstly, Mr. Pontellier represents Kate Chopin's supposition that in society men objectify women. A wife is a man's property, he "looks at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of property which has suffered some damage"(44) and his possession, "he greatly valued his possessions, chiefly because they were his"(99). Mr. Pontellier treats Edna like a child, commanding and demeaning her,"Send him about his business when he bores you,' instructed her husband"(45) while also scolding her "he reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children"(48). At the same time, he requires that she play the role of his wife,"Tuesday being Mrs. Pontellier's reception day..attired in a handsome gown, she remained in the drawing-room the entire afternoon receiving her visitors"(100). Chopin also uses Pontellier to indicate that she conceives men as dominating, for example, on page 77 and 78, when Edna refuses to go inside, Mr. Pontellier joins her outside and waits until she decides to go in. Chopin also shows Pontellier taking out his anger at Edna for going out on Tuesday afternoon, by complaining about the cook(108).
Next,Alcee Arobin symbo...
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... confidence to me, perhaps I might help you. I know I would understand, and I tell you there are not many who would--not many, my dear(171), "I don't want you to blame yourself, whatever comes"(172). Unfortunately, it is already to late, for when Edna
returns and finds Robert's note, her grief can not be contained. After she swims out , she looks back and thinks "perhaps Doctor Mandelet would have understood if she had seen him--but it was too late"(176).
Put simply, Kate Chopin uses The Awakening to exercise her observations of men in her society. In the present, it is hard to see her accusations as accurate since society has changed considerably. But regarding the time and setting of her story, Chopin's views are quite accurate and fair, although unappealing to the men who read her book, which eventually made her and The Awakening so unpopular.