Female Empowerment in Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"

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Wintersemester 2010/11 Vertiefungsmodul Kurs: American Realism and Naturalism - Short Stories Seminarleiter: Georg Schiller
Datum der Abgabe: 16.04.2011

Female Empowerment in Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”

Anjana Dhir

BA Englisch KF, Geschichte NF 3. Semester Table of Contents

1. Introduction 3 2. The French – Creole society of Louisiana 4 2.1 Cultural background 4 2.2 French-Creole women 5 3. The Role of Women 6 4.1 Edna vs. Madame Ratignolle 7 3.1.1 “A Valuable Piece of Property” 7 3.1.2 Edna – The Unusual Woman 9
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2. The French – Creole Society in Louisiana
The French-Creole society in which Edna Pontellier lived and, ultimately, sought to break free from is not only a lead character in Chopin’s story, but equally relevant to the social historian in understanding the context in which women like Edna felt compelled to improve their social condition.
The society during Chopin’s time period was undergoing remarkable social changes in which the role of women, amongst other things, began to face a change. While America started progressing towards urbanization and industrialization, more women began to protest against their unequal social position. From society’s point of view, ideally, a woman’s place was at home. She was to maintain her role as a wife and a mother, while men would be in charge of secular affairs. Soon the concept of the “New Woman” came into being. In the 1890’s countless women’s organizations came together to demand an improvement of their living standards and get rid of inequality. The “New Woman […] rejected traditional stereotypes of woman as delicate, passive and domestic; she demanded, and began to move towards obtaining, education, careers, dress reform and suffrage.”

2.1 Cultural Background
The Awakening was written at the end of the 19th century and is based on the French – Creole society in
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