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Women In The Awakening Kate Chopin

1722 words - 7 pages

Women in The AwakeningKate Chopin's The Awakening illustrates the many aspects of Creole life. Creole women have certain duties and responsibilities that they must carry out. Edna Pontellier and Adele Ratignolle share different views about the role of women in Creole society. Adele believes that women should be subservient to their husbands and fulfill their motherly duties. She believes that "a woman who would give her life for her children could do no more than that"(Chopin 47). Edna, however, takes a different standpoint. Frank Magill states that "if Edna chooses to remain a traditional woman, her children and her husband must come before her own needs; if she seeks new avenues of self-fulfillment, however, she must recognize that she will be confronting tempest-like winds of controversy that will lead to social banishment"(389). Adele Ratignolle and Edna Pontellier represent the dutiful and the rebellious Creole women, respectively.Adele Ratignolle represents the ideal mother. Her attitude toward her children is always one of love. Even in her free time, Adele works to fulfill her children's needs. While at Grand Isle, she "was busily engaged in sewing upon a diminutive pair of night-drawers . . . designed for winter wear"(Chopin 8). When she should enjoy the summer on the island, Adele's thoughts anticipate her children's needs for the winter. Lant comments, "As a true representative of femininity, Adele is excessively devoted to . . . her children"(116). Always conscious of her motherly role, Adele seeks to provide for her children.Adele's pleasures are found in her children. Although "she [plays] very well, keeping excellent waltz time and infusing an expression into the strains which was indeed inspiring" (Chopin 24), she only plays to keep her children happy. She feels that is an important part of her motherly duty to keep up her playing to enrich the children's lives. Adele is " 'a faultless Madonna,' who dedicates her life to her husband and children"(Magill 389). Even though she wants what is best for her children, Adele knows that she must be accepted by society and maintain a desirable reputation.In contrast, Edna Pontellier believes that her own desires should come first. She loves her children, but she does not think that their needs and wants should burden her. One evening, after returning from Klein's hotel, Leonce tells Edna that their son, Raoul, has a high fever. Edna is "quite sure Raoul [has] no fever. He had gone to bed perfectly well"(Chopin 55). Leonce criticizes Edna for neglecting the child. Edna failed to realize that one of her children was sick, even though part of her motherly role is to ensure the children's health and happiness. Lant states, "While Edna loves her sons, she does not devote herself exclusively to them"(120). Edna tells Adele, "I would give my life for my children, but I wouldn't give myself"(Chopin 47). Edna is willing to die for her sons, but she is not willing to allow them to hinder her from...

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