George Gordon Noel Byron (The Daily Muse)
Everyday the North American media sends millions of sexually provocative images through the airwaves and onto television screens. According to a recent study, an overwhelming 56% of all television programs contain sexual content (Vieth, 2). Our society has become so immune to the representation of sex that, for the most part, it goes unnoticed. Although concerns regarding sexuality still remain, society's tolerance level has changed dramatically over time. The history of attitudes toward sex and sexuality is a cultural process that can be seen through the literature of an era. The Awakening was the first piece of American fiction to blatantly attack the nineteenth century notion that marriage, emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy were inextricably bound together. Chopin's novel was advanced in theme over other nineteenth century works. Her piece more closely reflects the modern novel. Chopin gives her readers the story of a married woman, Edna Pontellier, as she explores her sexuality and need for emotional intimacy outside her marriage. Edna's need for extramarital relationships challenged the nineteenth century ideas of femininity and propriety.
In the past, literature for women strove to reinforce the culturally approved ideas of femininity. Tremendous volumes of literature were written to reinforce appropriate female behaviour. By the mid-eighteenth century, the ideological division of women into two classes, the virtuous and the fallen, was well developed (Armstrong, 18). Literature often portrayed both of these women, with the virtuous triumphing at the end and the fallen receiving her appropriate punishment. Chopin followe...
... middle of paper ...
...ery caused tremendous controversy when the book was published in 1899. Whatever the moralistic tone of The Awakening, it is definitely a powerful novel about female sexuality and the first in American fiction to criticize the presumption that sex and marriage were associated. Chopin was ahead of her time and many critics considered the novel dangerous because it challenged the nineteenth century ideas of femininity. Perhaps Chopin would have been accepted better in our society.
Armstrong, Nancy; Tennenhouse, Leonard.
The Ideology of Conduct: Essays in Literature and the History of Sexuality.
New York: Methuen & Co., 1987
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening and Selected Stories. New York: Random House, Inc., 1981
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening: An Authoritative Text, Context, Criticism.
Ed. Margaret Culley. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1976
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The late nineteenth century was a time of great social, technological, and cultural change for America. Boundaries were rapidly evolving. New theories challenging age-old beliefs were springing up everywhere, such as Darwin's natural selection. This post-Civil War era also gave men and women opportunities to work side-by-side, and in 1848, the first woman's rights conference was held in Seneca Fall, New York. These events leading up to the twentieth century had polished the way for the new, independent woman to be introduced.... [tags: Kate Chopin, The Awakening]
1882 words (5.4 pages)
- Kate Chopin's Unorthodox Awakening The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, was a book that was truly ahead of its time. The author of the book was truly a genius in her right, but yet she was seen as a scoundrel. At the time, it was "a world that values only her performance as a mother, whose highest expectations for women are self sacrifice and self-effacement." ( . ) The people of that era were not ready to admit or accept the simple but hidden feelings of intimacy or sexuality and the true nature of womanhood.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
603 words (1.7 pages)
- During the late nineteenth century, the time of protagonist Edna Pontellier, a woman's place in society was confined to worshipping her children and submitting to her husband. Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, encompasses the frustrations and the triumphs in a woman's life as she attempts to cope with these strict cultural demands. Defying the stereotype of a "mother-woman," Edna battles the pressures of 1899 that command her to be a subdued and devoted housewife. Although Edna's ultimate suicide is a waste of her struggles against an oppressive society, The Awakening supports and encourages feminism as a way for women to obtain sexual freedom, financial independence, and individual identi... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
1882 words (5.4 pages)
- Edna as a Metaphorical Lesbian in Chopin’s The Awakening Elizabeth LeBlanc places The Awakening in an interesting context in her essay “The Metaphorical Lesbian,” as gender criticism must, for Chopin wrote the novel at the end of the 19th century, when homosexuality as an identity emerged culturally, at least in terms of the gay male identity, as proffered by Oscar Wilde across the Atlantic. Lesbianism, too, started to make its debut on the cultural stage, particularly in literature. However, although lesbianism started to emerge during Chopin’s lifetime, it seems doubtful that it played any formative role for Edna’s characterization.... [tags: Chopin Awakening]
548 words (1.6 pages)
- The Awakening: Kate Chopin Kate Chopin was an American author who lived during the nineteenth century, but because of The Awakening, a novel which was considered scandalous at the time, she has just recently been "…accepted into the canon of major American writers"(Trosky 105). Through Kate Chopin’s main character of The Awakening, Edna Pontellier, she is able to portray her feelings and desires that were otherwise suppressed by the ideals of American society at that time. Kate Chopin was born on February 8, 1851 in St.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
1278 words (3.7 pages)
- Margit Stange’s Literary Criticism of Chopin’s The Awakening Margit Stange makes a series of meaningful connections between Kate Chopin’s dramatization of Edna Pontellier’s “awakening” and the historical context of feminist thought which Stange believes influenced the novel. Part of understanding Edna’s motives and Chopin’s thinking are Stange’s well-chosen references to the contemporary ideology that shapes Edna’s thinking and her choices. Stange argues that Edna is seeking the late-nineteenth-century conception of self-ownership, which pivots on “voluntary motherhood.” Edna’s awakening, her acquisition of self-determination, comes from identifying and re-distributing what she owns, which... [tags: Chopin Awakening Literature Essays]
796 words (2.3 pages)
- American author Kate Chopin wrote two published novels and about a hundred short stories in the 1890s Most of her fiction is set in Louisiana and most of her best-known work focuses on the lives of sensitive, intelligent women. Her short stories were well received in her own time and were published by some of America’s most prestigious magazines—Vogue, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Young People, and Century. Her early novel At Fault (1890) had not been much noticed by the public, but The Awakening (1899) was widely condemned.... [tags: Gender Lens Analysis]
1225 words (3.5 pages)
- Kate Chopin wrote for a reason and with a sense of passion and desire. She lived the way she wanted to and wrote what she felt, thought, and wanted to say. Kate wrote for many years and her popularity was extreme until critical disapproval of her novel, The Awakening, a story that portrayed women’s desires of independence and control of their own sexuality. Most men condemned this story, while women applauded her for it. Kate wrote with a sense of realism and naturalism and she created a voice that is unique and unmatched.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Kate Chopin]
1558 words (4.5 pages)
- ... In the novel, Edna places her family, especially her children, last and pursues the freedoms of education, money and sex. With a spirit of rebellion and desire to part from society’s norm, Edna “grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before” (Chopin, 36). Eventually she goes as far as exploring the freedom of death as she commits suicide, further challenging the behavior of women in her time. As Edna breaks from the expectations imposed on her, Chopin creates a character that shares the desires that oppressed women were not allowed to express in her time.... [tags: edna, mother-wife]
563 words (1.6 pages)
- In the late eighteeth century, notions of modesty and propriety meant that there were few ways in which sexuality could be discussed openly in a social setting. Gothic narrative served as an outlet. In Victorian Supernatural fiction, the anxieties surrounding homosexuality is a very prominent theme. However, due to the cultural status of homosexuality as taboo, the subject is heavily veiled in literature. In John Mead Faulkner's `The Lost Stradivarius,' the story appears to be about a young man's obsession with a wonderful musical instrument and a particular piece of music.... [tags: Comparative Literature]
1860 words (5.3 pages)