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The Controlling Men Of The Awakening

1193 words - 5 pages

The Grand Isle society and inhabitants put great expectations on its women to belong to their men and be secondary to their children. Throughout Kate Chopin's dramatic novel The Awakening, she tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a woman who throughout the story tries to find herself using various different methods until it leads to her untimely demise. Kate Chopin tries to make the women look more as possessions rather than people. Edna Pontellier's society, therefore, flourishes with "mother-women," who "idolized their children, worshipped their husbands, and esteemed it to a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals" (12). Throughout the story, Chopin presents a contrast in her male characters. She depicts Leonce as a good husband capable of great things but one who is oblivious to his wife’s needs. Alcee Arobin as a make who recognizes Edna’s physical (animalistic) needs in a relationship, and Robert as a sensitive male who understands Edna’s thoughts and feelings but also realizes that he cannot have Edna because she is one of Leonce’s possessions, therefore leaving him at a crossroad. Throughout the book the men have a lasting effect on Edna, thus controlling her and preventing her from gaining her independence she tries so hard to obtain.
Leonce Pontellier is the typical Creole man and husband that one would find during this period. He believes that women should only work and live for the well being of their family. "He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children. If it was not a mother's place to look after children, whose on earth was it? He himself had his hands full with his brokerage business" (77) Leonce thought of himself as a great husband, but being the male he wants his wife to obey his orders. All he wants is the ideal creole woman, one who can help him succeed in the business world he loves so much, perhaps more than his wife Edna. Never does Leonce think that it is his right or responsibility to look after the children, and society at the time backs his concept up. Leonce’s thoughts and actions were very selfish to Edna’s need for independence and freedom. He saw his office and business as his job and work at home as Edna’s. Leonce is so caught up in his own ideals that he fails to see his effect on his wife. "He thought it very discouraging that his wife, who was the sole object of his existence, evinced so little interest in the things which concerned him and valued so little his conversation" (9) He was a very self centered man who thought only about himself and his wife’s material needs. Leonce thinks too secure about Edna, he never asks her how her day is going, or if something is bothering her, normal things that would stimulate a marriage. Yet he expects her to be completely fascinated with him and his conversations. “He thought it very discouraging that his wife, the sole object of his existence, envinviced so little interest in things which concerned him and valued so...

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