Kate Chopin's The Awakening is truly a novel that stands out from the rest. From the moment it was published, it has been caused women to examine their beliefs. The fact that The Awakening was shunned when first published, yet now taught in classrooms across the country is proof that The Awakening is full of rebellious and controversial ideas.
One of the main themes explored in The Awakening is that of a woman's place in society. In that time period, a woman was considered in some ways to be property of a man (Mahin 2). This is shown repeatedly in The Awakening, through the many relationships between the characters. As with many ideas throughout the book, this is depicted well through the contrast between Edna's marriage and Madame Ratignolle's (Klein 4). While Madame Ratignolle is happy to do whatever her husband wishes, Edna will not indulge her husband at all, at one point even telling him "Don't speak to me like that again; I shall not answer you" (Chopin 80). Edna also had extremely rebellious views on her family life, thinking of her children as passing pleasures rather than the sole purpose of her existence (Klein 4). She even states to Madame Ratignolle "I would give up the unessential [for her children];... but I wouldn't give myself" (Chopin 97). These were definitely not the usual thoughts of a woman in that era, which is reflected through her husband's opinion. "It seems to me the utmost folly for a woman at the head of a household, and the mother of children, to spend in an atelier days which would be better employed contriving for the comfort of her family" (Chopin 108). Although women were supposed to automatically be good mothers ...
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...o wonder that it was banned when first published and, conversely, it is no surprise that it is praised today. The Awakening allows the reader a glimpse at a different way of life, a way of life that definitely rebels from the normal standards of society.
Works Cited and Consulted
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening and Selected Short Stories of Kate Chopin. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.
Klein, Sarah. "Kate Chopin's Ecofeminism: A Dialogue Between The Awakening & Contemporary Women."
Address. South Central Women's Studies Association Conference. Newcomb College. New Orleans, LA:, 1999.
Mahin, Michael James The Awakening and The Yellow Wallpaper: An Intertextual Comparison of the "Conventional" Connotations of Marriage and Propriety
Simons, Karen. "Kate Chopin on the Nature of Things." Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Culture 51.2 (1998): 2
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