Feminist Ideas In 'The Awakening' By Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin’s fictional character, Edna Pontellier, is a literary icon for feminist ideals in that she chooses individuality over conventionality, sexuality over repression, and art over her duties as a woman in the Victorian Era. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, was set in New Orleans, in the late 1800’s when the laws gave women limited rights and freedoms. Women were expected to care for their families and suppress their own desires. As stated in the novel in the “An Etiquette/ Advice Book Sampler” located in the middle of the book, the sections from the Richard A. Wells, Decorum: A Practical Treatise on Etiquette and Dress of the Best American Society, gives the reader a clear idea of what the duties and obligations women needed to follow during the 19th century. Kate Chopin created a fictional representation for feminist ideals when she created Edna Pontellier. Edna, during a slow awakening, discovered her own true identity and went against the traditional Victorian Era norms and acknowledged her own desires. Edna begins as a woman who has an unanswered emotion and feels as though something in her life does not make sense. There is some desire that is not being fulfilled in her everyday life and she could not find the words to explain it. She is consciously questioning her choices and overthinking normal everyday life. She is drawn to the sea, a symbol of freedom and a substance that is greater than life itself. Chopin writes, “The voice of the sea is seductive;
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