These events leading up to the twentieth century had polished the way for the new, independent woman to be introduced. Women "at all levels of society were active in attempts to better their lot, and the 'New Woman,' the late nineteenth-century equivalent of the 'liberated woman,' was much on the public mind" (Culley 117). Women were finally publicly discussing private matters and gaining on their male counterparts’ socioeconomic status, and in 1899, in the midst of the women's movement, American society seemed ready for Kate Chopin’s newest invention, Edna Pontellier.
Madame Edna Pontellier, wife of wealthy and much respected Leonce Pontellier, had the perfect life. Vacationing in Grand Isle, living in a mansion, raising her two boys, Edna seemed untroubled and well cared for. But one cannot see another’s private distresses from the outside. Entrapped by the sequestering tomb of the mindsets of her time and starved for freedom and expression, Edna was willing to give up her life to break free. Because of these traits, Edna exemplified the ideal New Woman. She had freedom of choice, courage, passion, and was fearless. Edna Pontellier was the role model for women striving for the same social ideals; they wanted to be her. All this, and Chopin’s ethos with her well written plethora of short stories and her prospero...
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Seyersted, Per. Kate Chopin A Critical Biography. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1994. Print.
Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Dennis Poupard. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale Research, 1984. p55-84.
Buhle, Mari Jo. Women and American Socialism, 1870-1920. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1981.
Culley, Margaret, ed. The Awakening: An Authoritative Text Context Criticism. New York: Norton, 1976.
Koloski, Bernard, ed. Preface. Approaches to Teaching Chopin's The Awakening. By Koloski. New York: MLA, 1988.
Robinson, Lillian. "Treason Our Text: Feminist Challenges to the Literary Canon." Falling into Theory: Conflicting Views on Reading Literature. ed. David H. Richter. Boston: Bedford, 1994.
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