Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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During the late nineteenth century, the time of protagonist Edna Pontellier, a woman's place in society was confined to worshipping her children and submitting to her husband. Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, encompasses the frustrations and the triumphs in a woman's life as she attempts to cope with these strict cultural demands. Defying the stereotype of a "mother-woman," Edna battles the pressures of 1899 that command her to be a subdued and devoted housewife. Although Edna's ultimate suicide is a waste of her struggles against an oppressive society, The Awakening supports and encourages feminism as a way for women to obtain sexual freedom, financial independence, and individual identity. Feminism is commonly thought of as a tool…show more content…
Edna portrays her role as a feminist in many ways. She tells Madame Ratignolle "she would never sacrifice herself for her children, or for anyone. . . . I would give up the essential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself" (Chopin 47). This exemplifies Edna's theory that if she gives up her soul, the very base of her womanhood and what she stands for in life, then her existence and her point in the world is over, and she may drift away into the abyss of commonality. "Kate Chopin has given Edna an inner sight. Edna begins on a search of what is to be, not of what it is necessarily to be female, but simply to be," Jennifer Ward compares. Edna believes in herself as a strong individual and moves forward to attaining her sexuality and opinions, strongly enforcing the beliefs of feminism to intimately discovering one's mind and body. Although there are many different definitions of feminism, it is conclusive that feminism is about the labors of women to define themselves as passionate counterparts to men, and not merely faithful dogs padding loyally on the heels of their masters. Edna Pontellier's suicide is the unfortunate pit falling of this otherwise feminist piece of literature. Her action, in fact, completely discredits the classification of feminism. Regardless of her ability to withdraw from her husband, venture out on her own, and buy her own home, Edna lacks a very
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