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Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" Essay

2380 words - 10 pages

Just 50 years after the first women's right movement in 1848, Kate Chopin had published her controversial novel, The Awakening to a society that was beginning to struggle with the concept of equal rights for all people. Chopin embraced the triumphs and frustrations she and many women of her time faced through the main character Edna Pontellier, a women who was struggling for her freedom in a male dominant society. Chopin descriptively takes the reader into a time period with strict cultural and class demands placed upon women. By resisting to conform to the stereotype of a mother-woman, Edna combats the pressures of 1899 that controlled her to be a devoted housewife, a time when a woman's place in society was confined to being a submissive wife and self sacrificing mother. Edna's break into freedom which was only possible through suicide shows that despite not being able to change the minds of those in her oppressive society, Edna was unwilling to sacrifice her life in order to conform to her societies ways. The Awakening can be considered a pro-feminist novel because it supports and encourages women in securing financial independence, individual identity and sexual liberation, yet at the same time, does not fall into the time period, in which historians think the moment got its most momentum, and finally allowed the United States to pass its Women's Rights amendment to the constitution.One of the most impressive ways Edna demonstrates her self-sufficiently in her new life is how she supports herself financially. Through an inheritance and her love for art, Kate Chopin releases Edna into the world where she is in charge and is not reliant on anyone else, including her husband or family. She goes even as far as renting her own cottage, to move away from her husband Léonce, and wait for her love, Robert to return from Mexico. Edna worked very hard throughout the novel to obtain her freedom, despite any consequences she might have faced in society. She is a blossoming flower - the essence of beauty, confidence that is coming up, and reputable superiority - in a bland and monotone world.Edna stops listening her husband because of her new found love for Robert and discovering herself is another integral part of The Awakening's feminist ideas. Chopin illustrates through Edna that she believes marriage for a women must be for love of a man. Go away, she says to her husband, you bother me, the exact antithesis of every social expectation of the time. Women were expected to love, worship, and obey their husbands at all costs, from the beginning of time to the nineteenth century. It has only been recently, past the turn of the twentieth century, that women have not been expected to completely adore and devote their lives to men (Davis 241).Feminism is still used as a method for teaching society about the rights of women and establishing that every woman is equal to a man. Many feminists throughout the years have tried to set aside the stereotypes...

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