Two Autonomous Women in American Literature Essay

Two Autonomous Women in American Literature Essay

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In American history, women have not always had the same rights and opportunities of men. Yet, there were exceptions throughout history of women casting aside the general role of just a mother or housewife. Two fictitious examples occur in the book The Awakening by Kate Chopin, and the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare. In The Awakening, Edna, the protagonist of the story, undergoes a realization that her nineteenth-century lifestyle is not the way she wants to live. She rebels against being treated like a piece of property and tries to break free of societies laws. Macbeth tells the story of a man named Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth who desires to become queen. Lady Macbeth is the one who told him to kill the current king Duncan to become king himself. Both Edna and Lady Macbeth portray examples of women with autonomy, but the one who displays the characteristics of autonomy the best is Edna. Edna is more autonomous than Lady Macbeth, who only influences rather than display her own independence, because she takes a stand against society, which is the ultimate act of independence.
Lady Macbeth is inarguably a very strong, powerful woman with a lot of control, especially at the beginning of the play. This quote explains the extent of her control over her husband, “Lady Macbeth appears to be somehow in league with evil and Macbeth its victim, a fly in the spider’s web who struggles mightily but cannot escape” (Johnson). She manipulates her husband to get him to do what she wants. When she learns of his destiny to become king, she can’t just let him sit around waiting on it to happen; she knows he has to act. She tells Macbeth he has to kill king Duncan and overrides his objections. Lady Macbeth tries to commit the mu...


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...to live, has more autonomy than Lady Macbeth who could only persuade. Both of these women are extremely strong and independent, which makes it very difficult to decide between them. In the end though, Edna is the more autonomous because she held her beliefs until the very end. Lady Macbeth let her ideas get the better of her and felt the guilt of these ideas. So in conclusion, Edna is the more autonomous woman out of the two. Both women were strong and brave for being different in a time when being different was not acceptable.



Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Dover Publications, 1993. Print.
Dominic, Catherine C. ed. Shakespeare’s Characters for Students. Detroit: 1997. Print.
Johnson, Vernon Elso. ed. Social Issues in Literature. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Logan, IA: Perfection Learning, 2004. Print.

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