"Repressing The Awakening" Is A Psychoanalysis Of Kate Chopin's Novel The Awakening. It Examines Decadent, Displaced, And Transitory Sexual Repression In The Characters. Complete With Quotes.

1930 words - 8 pages

In the 19th century, Sigmund Freud created a popular new method of psychological analysis, appropriately titled "psychoanalysis." Dealing primarily with subconscious impulses and desires, this popular method of evaluation soon spread beyond the realm of science and in to the literary world. In reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin, psychoanalysis introduces a significant revelation in regards to the novel's main characters. Using a Freudian analysis, the reader can see how both male and female characters exhibit subconscious signs of sexual repression and, in the more extreme cases, displacement of sexual passions and energy. When broken down, these characters can be divided into three categories: the decadent, the displaced, and the transitory.To properly observe characters with displaced passions and repressed desires, one must first acknowledge their opposites, characters who freely commit overt sexual acts. Acting as a background, these "decadents" help us understand the repressed. Victor Lebrun, Alcee Arobin and Mrs. Highcamp are members of this first category. Through analysis, we find a common thread tying them together; each likes to fraternize with members of the opposite sex. There are subtle differences though. While Victor is simultaneously supported and spoiled by his mother, his male counterpart, Arobin, chooses to take on the airs of real work by attaching his name to a prosperous business. He states that, "There are so many inquisitive people and institutions abounding that one is forced as a matter of convenience these days to assume the virtue of an occupation if he has it not" (146). The significance of these words rings clear when Arobin states the need to "assume virtue." Despite appearances, these men are not as gentlemanly as they might appear. Mrs. Highcamp, however, chooses to follow an altogether different route of debauchery by using her daughter as bait to lure men into her own bed. Thus we see each character uses a different means to achieve the same end.With a reference point established, we are now free to move into an analysis of the second character type, the repressed and displaced. Edna's husband, Leonce Pontellier, is the best choice for this male archetype with Mademoiselle Reisz posing as his female counterpart. Proof of repression and a displacement of the sexual appetite are evident in both characters, but while Mr. Pontellier hungers for power, status, and possessions rather than sexual gratification, Mademoiselle Reisz pours her passion into her music. And it is with this peek into the richness and depth of each character that we become more selective in our analysis, beginning with an individual psychoanalysis of Leonce Pontellier.Power, status, and possessions are all things Mr. Pontellier derives security from. One of the best examples of his preference for possessions comes during Chopin's play on words. The man thinks of his property, not as his household goods, but his "household gods" (83), placing...

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