The story of Edna Pontellier, the heroine of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, echoes that of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Both novels tell about young wives who recognize the hollowness of their marriages and look outside them for fulfillment. While the similarities are deep and numerous, Chopin’s characterization and plot diverge from those of Flaubert. Madame Bovary does contain a hint of advocacy for women, however Chopin’s version of the story reflects the author’s status as one of America’s first feminist authors. Perhaps Chopin’s dissent does not constitute an objection to Flaubert’s portrayal of womanhood, which is very sensitive and thoughtful. There is, in fact, a feminist savor to Madame Bovary. Emma hopes she will have a son, because
A man, at least, is free; he can explore each passion and every kingdom, conquer obstacles, feast upon the most exotic pleasures. But a woman is continually thwarted. Both inert and yielding, against her are ranged the weakness of the flesh and the inequity of the law…. Always there is the desire urging, always there is the convention restraining. (MB, 70) 1
In the story-line, and perhaps in those hints of feminism, Chopin saw the chance to make a point. She borrowed Flaubert’s storyline to write a feminist manifesto; more a tract than a novel, The Awakening is starkly written, with much less subtlety than Madame Bovary. For instance, Flaubert communicates the shallow, materialistic nature of Charles’s attitude towards Emma by contrasting his fascination with her looks, “he gazed at the sunlight playing in the golden down on her cheeks…” (MB, 25), with his obliviousness to her thoughts and personality. On the other hand, Chop...
... middle of paper ...
... kills herself by swimming out to sea “with a long, sweeping stroke” (A, 152), using her strength to aid her decision and the power (her swimming ability) that she discovered that summer, at the beginning of her awakening. In the end, Chopin’s heroine is not weak and defeated in death, not tortured with seizures, not the subject of gossip and mockery, not the gruesome object beneath a sheet. Edna dies in the memory of herself, her childhood. She controls her own life and her own end. She is triumphant.
1 Quotations from Madame Bovary are cited in the text with the abbreviation listed below.
MB: Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, trans. Geoffrey Wall (London: Penguin Books, 1992).
2 Quotations from The Awakening are cited in the text with the abbreviation listed below.
A: Kate Chopin, The Awakening (Cutchogue, N.Y.: Buccaneer Books, 1993).
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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.... [tags: Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, Novel, Rouen]
1007 words (2.9 pages)
- What's Hidden in Kate Chopin's "The Storm". Kate Chopin's the storm is about a woman named Calixta who rekindles a lost romance with a former lover in the midst of a storm. This story centers on lost love and being stuck in relationships that are unwanted. There is a lot of hidden meaning in the story, told well behind the characters and their surroundings, and it also has a strong plot, and a lot of symbolism. The plot of a woman and a man rekindling a lost romance in the midst of a storm is one with a lot of innuendos.... [tags: Kate Chopin]
1548 words (4.4 pages)
- Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour Question #1 Compare and contrast women's roles and marriage in "The Story of an Hour" and "The Yellow Wallpaper." Mrs. Mallard had heart trouble and is very sick. After the news of her husbands death she locked herself in her room and all she could think was she was finally free. She knew she would weep again when she saw her husband with his hands folded in death, but all she could think as she sat in the room all alone was of the many years she would have ahead of her to only live for herself: "But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely" (Danticat 138).... [tags: Kate Chopin]
1629 words (4.7 pages)
- Things and People are not always as they appear to be on the first sight that is why we have to examine them in different ways otherwise they may mislead us. That is more then true in the short story "The Kiss" by Kate Chopin in which she uses imagery, irony and simile to show us how deceitful a person can be. She tells us by the actions of her characters that a person should not be judged solely by his or her appearance or words because those things can be dangerously misleading. All of the characters in Chopin story play their own games and in more or less visible way try to manipulate others to achieve their own sometimes not very righteous goals, but who will eventually succeed in realiz... [tags: Kate Chopin]
1046 words (3 pages)
- Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour Kate Chopin was a Victorian writer; whose writing manifests her life experiences. She was not happy with the principles of the time, because women had fewer rights, and they were not considered equal to men. Afraid of segregation from society, people lived in a hypocritical world full of lies; moreover, Kate Chopin was not afraid of segregation, and used her writing as a weapon against oppression of the soul. Marriage was an oppressor to Chopin, she had been a victim of this institution.... [tags: Kate Chopin The Story of an Hour]
394 words (1.1 pages)
- Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby This essay will focus on the short story by Kate Chopin and its use of symbols, setting and characters. Desiree’s baby was perhaps one of the best stories I’ve ever read. Analyzing it was not easy at all. Its use of symbols was very hard to comprehend. At first, it doesn’t make sense. But as you think critically, all the symbols, and setting and the characters in this literature plunge together in one amazing story.... [tags: Kate Chopin Desiree's Baby]
1392 words (4 pages)
- Kate Chopin was an American feminist fiction writer and a woman ahead of her time. She lived in the socially conservative nineteenth-century, but in her stories, she wrote about unconventional characters, particularly women, that caused others to question her morality. Similar to the female characters in her stories, Kate Chopin was an independent woman. She would often smoke cigarettes or walk in the streets unaccompanied; these practices were considered unusual for a nineteenth-century woman to do ("Katherine Chopin").... [tags: Kate Chopin Works Author]
1661 words (4.7 pages)
- Kate Chopin's The Awakening Kate Chopin's novella The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a woman who throughout the novella tries to find herself. Edna begins the story in the role of the typical mother-woman distinctive of Creole society but as the novelette furthers so does the distance she puts between herself and society. Edna's search for independence and a way to stray from society's rules and ways of life is depicted through symbolism with birds, clothing, and Edna's process of learning to swim.... [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening]
1023 words (2.9 pages)
- Kate Chopin's Writing Elizabeth Fox Genovese of Emory University shared in a PBS interview that “She [Kate Chopin] was very important as one of the earliest examples of modernism in the United States or, if you wish, the cutting edge of modernism in American literature” (PBS – Interviews). Kate Chopin published At Fault, her first novel, in 1890 and The Awakening, her last novel, in 1898 (Guilds 924). During these years Chopin wrote numerous other works and most, like At Fault and The Awakening, centered around upper-middle class Creole or French women involved in womanly uncertainties; such as, extramarital affairs, acceptable behavior in society for females, duties as a wife, responsibil... [tags: Author Kate Chopin Essays]
2343 words (6.7 pages)
- Kate Chopin's Awakening Kate Chopin's depiction of “The Awakening” is realistic as she develops Edna Pontellier’s character from a socially and morally respectable individual to an individual that turns her back on everything closest to her as she births her new self-being. Edna Pontellier struggles between her subconscious and conscious thoughts as unusual feelings stir unfounded emotions and senses. Some of Chopin’s characters lend themselves in Edna’s “awakening”. Through examination of Leonce Pontellier, Robert Lebrun, Madame Moiselle Reisz, Adele Ratignolle, and Alcee Arobin the life of Edna Pontellier turns into her ultimate death.... [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays]
1462 words (4.2 pages)
- The Beauty of Walt Whitman's When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
- Erroneus Assumptions in The Trial and Death of Socrates
- An Analysis of Elizabeth Bishop's 12 O'Clock News
- Julie Taymor’s Titus Andronicus
- The Many Personalities of Lolita and Humbert in Nabokov’s Lolita
- We Must Make Virtual Child Pornography Illegal