Kate Chopin 's Madame Bovary And The Awakening Essay

Kate Chopin 's Madame Bovary And The Awakening Essay

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In two stories from the Realism Period, “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert and “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, we see the struggle of early feminism and the constraints of women in that period. The main characters of Emma Bovary and Edna Pontellier have become literary symbols of the thirst for freedom and to be true to oneself. Additionally, they have become symbols for selfishness and longing for the unattainable. Exploring the similarities and difference of both women and their deaths will be the focus of this paper.
Despite the authors writing the stories decades apart, there are striking similarities between the protagonists. Defying the societal standard of the time, they rebelled against their marriages and strove for any feeling of freedom however real or imagined. Emma and Edna are compelled by the expectations of society to get married and have children. During this period, women are still viewed as not being able to make their own decisions regarding whether or not they wish to have children. Perhaps this could be the cause of neither of them becoming a loving mother; it is no excuse for the deplorable manner in which they treat their children. If a woman in this period wishes to pursue an education or otherwise have a career, she would find her options quite limited when compared to men. While their husbands differ in personality and temperament, neither provides their wives with meaningful intellectual stimulation. Emma views conversation with her husband as “flat as a sidewalk” (Flaubert 1243), and Edna does not have worthwhile discussion with her spouse either. Adultery is by far the prevailing characteristic linking their characters in the literary annals. Many would dismiss these feminist stories as...


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...made her lack the necessary skills to recognize when she was going too far and the endurance to keep her going when fatigued. Considering her lack of conditioning and that “body heat can be lost 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air” (Schomberg), it is highly likely that Edna was a victim of accidental drowning rather than suicide as most believe.
Considered to be fine examples of literature during the Realism period, “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert and “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, explores the struggle women face to find their own identity in that era. After taking into account their behavior, both good and bad, as well as their similarities and differences, and the circumstances of their deaths, one cannot dismiss Emma and Edna simply as selfish adulterers. Okay, maybe Emma does fall pretty heavy under that description, but not Edna.

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