Women in The Awakening and the short stories “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins

Women in The Awakening and the short stories “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins

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A feminist is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality in the sexes however, in the 1890’s feminists did not exist as a result of patriarchal oppression. This time, women were expected to be devoted to their husband and children while continuing their mundane roles as housewives. Although, women during the 19th century began to feel suffocated living within the strict social roles, they had to follow the norm, although some wanted liberty. Feminist ideas can be exposed in literature and feminist literary theory, focuses on the complex ways of women with no social power and expected roles in a “man’s world.” According to Donald Hall, one of his key principles about feminist analysis is “Language, institutions, and social power structures have reflected patriarchal interest throughout much of history; this has had a profound impact on women’s ability to express themselves and the quality of their daily lives” (Hall 202). Three literary pieces that tie in with Hall’s theory are the novel The Awakening and the short stories “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins. These literary pieces display women suffering from repression who seek a way to break free from their ordinary lifestyles.
The expectations of traditional domestic roles gave limitations to women of the late 1800’s very limited opportunities for self-expression and independence. For Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of The Awakening by Kate Chopin, she was prevented from seeking her own desires. Throughout the novel, Edna is trying to discover her own identity and recognize her emotions and sexual desires that become her “awakening.” Initially, Edna experiences her series of “awakenings” as nothing mor...


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...eeper. In the narrator’s conscious she sees herself “free” of her marriage, society and her repressed mind.
Consequently, Edna, Mallard and the narrator find freedom from their husbands, children, society and domestic roles. All three characters realized women have been denied social power and self-expression and wanted to break free of the cookie cutter ideas society expects. Honest and wise words from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a writer from Nigeria, states “Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage, I am expected to make my life choices, Always keeping in mind that, marriage is the most important …but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same (Knowles).” Women have always been expected to fit in society’s expectations but now, women have a voice to speak and make a change and break through a patriarchal world.

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