Society's Restrictive Roles for Women Exposed in The Awakening

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In the late 1800's, as well as the early 1900's, women felt discriminated against by men and by society in general. Men generally held discriminatory and stereotypical views of women. Women had no control over themselves and were perceived to be nothing more than property to men. They were expected to live up to a perfect image that society had created, while trying to comply with their husbands' desires. While many women felt dissatisfied with their lives, they would not come out and say it. However, in 1899, Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening, which showed women that they were not alone. This novel showed the discriminatory views and treatment towards women. It also distinctly indicates the dissatisfaction that women felt in their…show more content…
"It is worth noting that Edna does not face any explicit oppresion. She is merely expected to run the house, care for the children and do her best to please her husband. Nevertheless, she finds the role unbearable. She cannot give her life, her identity to others. It is better to die" (Aull). However, this almost methodical way of life affected Edna worse than many other women. Others, such as Adele Ratignolle, who is described as the perfect Creole "mother-woman," accepted their female roles with enthusiasm. She represents the perfect woman according to society, which is what Edna does not want to be.

Even though Edna has two children, she does not want to accept the conventional mother role. Mademoiselle Reisz represents another type of woman and another alternative for Edna. Although she is not married, Mademoiselle Reisz still fits society's role because she is "under control." She is a stable woman, who is not seeking "unladylike" excitement and adventure, as is the case with Edna. Rather, she has devoted her life to music, which is a worthy cause. However, Edna, having been awakened to her new-found desires, seeks excitement and independence.

Eventually, especially in the case of Edna Ponteiller in The Awakening, Chopin's women select (men) on the basis of their own sexual desires rather than for

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