The Awakening: Stereotypes Vs. Independance Essay

778 words - 4 pages

Kate Chopin's The Awakening, was a feminist novel from the Victorian Era that sought to end stereotypes and promote individuality of women. It is told through the story of Edna Pontellier and the self-discovery of her role in married life, in society, in motherhood, and in her mind.
Stereotypes are presented throughout the story as a way to enable the reader to get inside the main character's head and experience what she is going through. The major struggle in the novel was society's expectations versus an individual's desires, which was demonstrated through Edna's self-discovery. She had a hard time balancing her own desire for freedom and what society believed was proper of a wife and mother. According to society the mother-women were, "women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels" (10). The novel mostly focused on Edna finding her individuality and then becoming disgusted at the before mentioned societal beliefs. The swim far out in the lake was one of the first turning points in Edna's discovery that showed a new found freedom of not being dependant on anyone. This over took Edna with joy. However, here too there was a struggle because when she got too far out, she panicked and swam back as fast as possible. This shows the battle she was facing in her mind between freedom and the fright that no one was there to protect her. Arguably, the biggest turning point in the novel was when Edna bought her own house. She gave up her ties to her possessive and commanding husband and began to live for herself. However, she was still very depressed as she missed her lover, Robert, who she felt no longer paid her attention. Their relationship went up and down, but in the end she had changed so much that Robert was almost offended because she wasn't the same girl he fell for.
Edna seemed to grab hold of her freedom through her art. Her husband objected to her painting, however it was through this task that she began to realize how much she desired individuality. As Madame Reisz told Edna, "The bird that would soar above the level...

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