A Paper From Ourselves

1058 words - 5 pages

Few books in the literary world have managed to eloquently convey what it means to be a woman. Even fewer have managed to illustrate the joy, sorrow and innate desires which women of all classes, races and social levels face. In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God we are introduced to two captivating women whose quest for romantic love allowed them to find self-acceptance and inner freedom. Although Edna and Janie struggle to fulfill their innate desires, societal expectations create an inundating barrier which both obstructs and encourages their journey towards self-acceptance and freedom. This not only allows them to discover the essence of who ...view middle of the document...

Pontellier, Edna is nothing more than “a valuable piece of personal property” who is an embarrassment of a wife compared to the likes of Adele (Chopin 3). Maintaining true to the social stigmas of the time, Edna’s role as a wife is encompassed in her sexual relationship with Mr. Pontellier. Even if Edna is ‘not in the mood’ to have sexual relations with her husband, she is nonetheless, expected to do so; simply because it is her job as a wife to comply with her husbands ‘physical needs.’ In essence, the repression which Edna is subjected to is rather similar to that of rape; as Mr. Pontellier, by coersing Edna into sleeping with him essentially turns something enjoyable into a hideous and humiliating chore. To Edna, this situation could be seen as nothing more than a husband wishing to fulfill his needs, to others however, this appears to be nothing more than a brutal display of power. To men of the time, the more children conceived the better. Not only did this allow them to prove their social status (by being able to feed, clothe and educate them), but it aided them greatly in proving that their marriage was a prosperous one. Due to this, men flirting at women was both flattering and socially acceptable. In comparison, advances from women towards men were seen as both demeaning and inappropriate. Through the passage of time however, various events in history lessened these views, but nevertheless, continued to hinder women in significant ways. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie credulously believes that love towards her new husband Logan will come quickly and naturally simply because “Nanny and the old folks” had assured her so (Hurston 21). After running away and finding refuge in the arms of Jody, Janie deepens herself even further into the role of a submissive, quiet wife. His constant abuse and degradation break her down temporarily, but not for long. After the death of her husband, Janie is expected to quickly find herself a husband who can provide for her; but she once again establishes herself as a strong and independent woman. Although she is shunned by certain members...

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