themeaw Themes and Fate in The Awakening and Madame Bovary

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Themes and Fate in The Awakening and Madame Bovary Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary are both tales of women indignant with their domestic situations; the distinct differences between the two books can be found in the authors' unique tones. Both authors weave similar themes into their writings such as, the escape from the monotony of domestic life, dissatisfaction with marital expectations and suicide. References to "fate" abound throughout both works. In The Awakening, Chopin uses fate to represent the expectations of Edna Pontellier's aristocratic society. Flaubert uses "fate" to portray his characters' compulsive methods of dealing with their guilt and rejecting of personal accountability. Both authors, however seem to believe that it is fate that oppresses these women; their creators view them subjectively, as if they were products of their respective environments. Chopin portrays Edna as an object, and she receives only the same respect as a possession. Edna's husband sees her as and looks, "...at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage." (P 2 : The Awakening) Chopin foils their marriage in that of the Ratignolles who, "...understood each other perfectly." She makes the classic mistake of comparing one's insides with others' outsides when she thinks, "If ever the fusion of two human begins into one has been accomplished on this sphere it was surely in their union." (P 56 : The Awakening) This sets the stage for her unhappiness, providing a point of contrast for her despondent marriage to Mr. Pontellier. She blames their marriage for their unhappiness declaring that, "...a wedding is one of the ... ... middle of paper ... ...ate UP, 1969. 881-1000. Delbanco, Andrew. "The Half-Life of Edna Pontellier." New Essays on The Awakening. Ed. Wendy Martin. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988. 89-106. Gilmore, Michael T. "Revolt Against Nature: The Problematic Modernism of The Awakening." Martin 59-84. Giorcelli, Cristina. "Edna's Wisdom: A Transitional and Numinous Merging." Martin 109-39. Martin, Wendy, ed. New Essays on the Awakening. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988. Papke, Mary E. Verging on the Abyss: The Social Fiction of Kate Chopin and Edith Wharton. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1990. Seyersted, Per. Kate Chopin: A Critical Biography. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1969. Showalter, Elaine. "Tradition and the Female Talent: The Awakening as a Solitary Book." Martin 33-55. Skaggs, Peggy. Kate Chopin. Boston: Twayne, 1985.

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