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The Awakening Essay

1569 words - 6 pages

People in general are multidimensional; some of their facets are shown to the world, while others remain hidden deep. Societal norms create pressures that help a person develop a simple outer appearance, while keeping their emotions and personality traits locked up inside. Society’s norms often create confusion amongst people because their personal beliefs and opinions may differ from what society views as being normal and acceptable. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, women in particular were not able to express themselves because of society’s standards, and the way men viewed them at the time. In The Awakening by Kate Chopin she uses Edna to show that society’s norms made it difficult for a women to express themselves fully. Due, to these particular standards that women were supposed to follow we see the battle between Edna’s personal values and desires vs. society’s oppressive role for women.After marrying her husband Edna can no longer act on emotion and live her life the way that she wants. Her unhappiness as a house wife is first seen “After leaving the house to sit in a rocking chair on the front porch, her face was steaming and wet, into the bend of her arm, and she went on crying there, not caring any longer to dry her face, her eyes, her arms” (Chopin6). This quote shows that Edna is discontent with her lifestyle and does not know what to do beside cry. Edna’s discontent stems from the way Leonce treats her. Although, Leonce does not intend to be cruel and make his wife cry he follows what society thinks is correct, thus not allowing him to see that his wife can be his companion as well as his wife. Leonce is unable to see beyond societies norms and treats his wife as a possession instead of his partner in marriage. This becomes evident when Edna is described as being “the sole object of his existence” (Chopin4). This quote reemphasizes the societies views of women back then meaning that women are below man and only exist to serve them and their family. Leonce perception of his wife as property was common in Louisiana Society and formalized by its laws. Women were pressured to become mother women. Mother women worshipped their husbands, protected their children, and took care of the home. They were suppose to desire nothing more “to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels” (Chopin3). During the Victorian era these women were unequal servants, who did not get paid.Not only did Edna’s husband abide by these rules when it came to women, so did her dad. We see this when he says "You are far too lenient, too lenient by far, Leonce. Authority, coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard; the only way to manage a wife" (Chopin 133). This is her own dad telling her husband that he needs to be harder on her. The author clearly illustrates the inequality of woman and how every male views women as animals who need...

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