Kate Chopin 's The Awakening

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For centuries literature has identified and associated women with certain images and symbols. The critical lens of feminism works to identify these symbols and further argues that gender and time period dictate the manner in which one behaves. Themes of feminism are evident throughout The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Chopin uses contrasting characters such as Edna Pontellier and Adele Ratignolle to further embody the differing aspects of feminism. Adele Ratignolle represents the ideal woman of the time period, a mindless housewife working to serve her family, whereas Edna signifies an independent and daring woman who does not conform to society’s beliefs. These two women’s differing characteristics and personalities allow Chopin to further …show more content…

This parrot is a nuisance to those around it, especially men, considering it constantly repeats all it hears and, in a sense, does not shut up. This parrot personifies women of the time period, most similarly Adele Ratignolle. Women in the 1800s were mimics; they could only exist in the shadow of their husbands. They were expected to serve their families, idolize their husband, and to not seek any further forms of pleasure. Just as the parrot is in a cage, women of the time period were caged and limited in their independance. Additionally, this parrot only repeats the french phrase, “Allez vous-en! Sapristi!” which translates to, “Get out! Damn it!” (Chopin 5). Women were an inconvenience to all those around them as is portrayed by the parrot. Adele further displays her lack of independence when she cannot pick a type of candy to eat after being offered a plate of bon bons. Adele is not used to making her own decisions, therefore picking a type of candy baffles her.
Kate Chopin further contrasts Adele Ratignolle with Edna Pontellier. Edna Pontellier is also compared to a bird throughout the novel, a strong bird with courage. Mademoiselle Reisz once felt Edna’s shoulder blades to see if her wings were strong because, “the bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth” (Chopin 138). Reisz acknowledges

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