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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She leaves the care of her children to her grandmother, abandoning them and her husband when she leaves to live in the pigeon-house. To her, leaving her old home with Léonce is very important to her freedom. Almost everything in their house belonged to him, so even if he were to leave, she would still feel surrounded by his possessions. She never fully becomes free of him until she physically leaves the house. That way, Edna has no ties whatsoever to that man. Furthermore, Edna indulges in more humanistic things such as art and music. She listens to Mademoiselle Reisz’s playing of the piano and feels the music resonate throughout her body and soul, and uses it as a form of escapism from the world. Based on these instances, Edna acts almost like a very young child, completely disregarding consequences and thinking only about what they want to do experience most at that moment. However, to the reader this does not necessarily appear “bad”, but rather it is seen from the perspective of a person who has been controlled by others their entire life and wishes to break free from their grasp. In a way, she is enacting a childlike and subconscious form of revenge by disobeying all known social constructs of how a woman should talk, walk, act, and interact with others.
Illogical, submissive, and sensual are some of the words used to describe the view of women during the nineteenth century. In the novel The Awakening, Kate Chopin tells the controversial story of a woman, Edna Pontellier, and her spiritual growing. Throughout the story, Edna constantly battles between her heart’s desires and society’s standard. The novel shows how two women’s lives influence Edna throughout the novel. Mademoiselle Reisz and Madame Ratignolle are both in their own way strong, motherly influences in Edna’s life. Mademoiselle Reisz is Edna the mother who wants Edna to pursue her heart’s desires. Madame Ratignolle however, is the type of mother to Edna who wants Edna to do what is socially right. The way the two live
Edna’s children are different from other children, if one of her boys fell “…he was not apt to rush crying to his mother’s arms for comfort; he would more likely pick himself up, wipe the water out of his eyes and the sand out of his mouth, and go on playing”. Edna is not a typical Creole “mother-woman” who “idolized her children (and) worshipped her husband” (8) and at times that results in her husband’s claims that she neglects her children. Edna’s children leave her attached to her husband, and even if she is somehow able to escape the relationship with her husband she will never be able to escape her children. She realizes this and whether consciously or not, doesn’t care for her children the way this is expected of a woman in her time period. When Adele Ratignolle reminds her to, “Think of the children!…Oh think of the children! Remember them!” Edna finally realizes her decisions affect her and her children. Instead of accepting her responsibility as a mother Edna decides to give up, and does so by committing suicide.
A foil for Adele Ratignolle, Mademoiselle Reisz serves as a living example of an entirely self-sufficient woman, who is ruled by her art and her passions, rather than by the expectations of society. A small homely woman, unmarried and childless, Mademoiselle Reisz is a talented pianist and somewhat of a recluse. She represents the anti-mother along independence and freedom. The first time she is introduced in the novel she is introduced as being “eccentric and quarrelsome”, from that we are able to infer that she is unlike the other women. Later as the novel continues to progress from her house and manner of expression we are again able to infer that she is unlike the other Creole women. For her home is an apartment above everyone, with a view, that is disagreeable and often cold. Mademoiselle Reisz is the woman that Edna could have become should she have remained independent of her husband and children and lived to old age.
Kate Chopin’s aspiration to deliver The Awakening was to convey to the early 20th century public her position of women’s roles, rights, and independence in a time of strict gender roles. Chopin conveys to readers the oppression of women during her time. Edna Pontellier is Chopin’s protagonist in the novel, and she finds herself unhappy and contempt of her role as a republican mother, which characterizes the idea of women’s work, and Edna identifies indirectly with the women at the Seneca Falls convention. Throughout the book Edna’s husband, Leónce Pontellier, continually scolds her for not being an attentive and loving mother and Edna compares herself with Madame Ratignolle, who is the epitome of motherhood
Over the course of time the male species has always been the gender to attain the more favorable conditions. Numerous cultures heed to the belief that the man is the provider and head of his family. This machismo nature can condition the mind to believe that a man should feel superior to a woman. The continuous cycle of male superiority flows down from father to son subconsciously. Do to this unceasing sequence of behavior women fall subject to repression and control at the hands of mentally undeveloped men. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, illustrated this particular topic in a way that not only appealed to the readers’ sense of pathos but, the readers’ likeliness to be able to relate to the aforementioned as well. Chopin stylistically renders the struggle of the protagonist Edna Pontellier, a strong willed woman who finds herself imprisoned to the concept of trans-temporal existence, as she seeks refuge to her true being, Edna experiments relationships with multiple men that unintentionally repress her existence. Between Leonce Pontellier, Robert Lebrun, Alcee Arobin and The Colonel effect of Edna’s life they catalyze her awakening and ultimately lead her suicide.
Through the story Edna becomes more and more uneasy about not being able to do and have what she really wants. This can be shown from the beginning when she lets her children play by themselves and doesn’t miss her husband when he is away from home. Edna tried to be a good mother by becoming friends with an old fashioned woman, Madame Adèle Ratignolle, who devoted her life to her husband and children. However, when Edna was not around Madame Adèle Ratignolle, she forgot how to be like Adèle Ratignolle and instead busied herself with what was considered to be her “childish ways”. She would try to make herself as happy as possible; she was not her happiest with her husband and kids. When Edna discovered her passion for art, she embraced it and neglected her family even more so than before.
In the iconic debated novel “The Awakening”, Kate Chopin’s novel takes place in the Victorian Era, which is in the 19th- century, similarly the novel was published in 1899. Edna is depicted as a woman longing for more, a woman who was looking for more than just a life of complacency and living in the eyes of society. The story uses Edna to exemplify the expectations of women during this era. For example, a woman’s expression of independence was considered immoral. Edna was expected to conform to the expectations of society but the story reveals Edna’s desires which longed for independence in a state of societal dominance. Throughout The Awakening, Chopin’s most significant symbol,
She was pressured to marry Leonce by her father and older sister. Along with marriage came the pressure to have children. She is forced into these roles but never actually succumbs to them. Edna not only has Madame Ratignolle's friendship and her marriage to wake her up to her dreams and emotions, her affairs wake up to her desires. The way the different male characters treat her reminds her that she will never happily fit into the role of a wife and mother, therefore awakening her.
As shown through the events of The Awakening, Victorian society was preoccupied with the ideal of a mother-woman. Mother-women, such as Madame Ratignolle, disregarded their own individuality, and lived for nothing other than providing for their husbands and children. Edna Pontellier does not conform to this notion, and is thought of by many, her own husband included, as a poor mother. Regardless of the countless changes to the idea of motherhood and the societal role of women through the years, Edna continues to be a poor mother.
628) and starting to live separately from her family. Likely, she is not the first one, who fails to fit into society and tries to escape from it. Mademoiselle Reisz shows Edna advantages of the free life and plays a role of an accelerator of Edna’s awakening. She seems to guide and emotionally support Edna in her hard journey. Yet, Mademoiselle Reisz warns Edna that “’The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.”
By giving her children a sense of independance early which may enable them for success later on. While other children of the times may have a pseudo unhealthy reliance on a mother, much like Robert's brother Victor who still lives at home. Another more risky thing she did was make a statement that most women even now wouldn't agree with. Edna states: “I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself.”(Chopin 47) This statement holds quite a lot of weight in the way we can view edna. Some may call her selfish for a lack of an undying love for her children. But I view it as brutal honesty. The fact that edna is coming to this conclusion and fighting the ever pushing stream of society really shows how she is trying to fight. Giving up one's self is a very dangerous thing to do. For once you give too much you can lose who you are. But too little and people can lose sight of what you can be/who you are. As a mother edna realizes this and decides to make herself known in a different way than as a mother-woman.
Edna recognizes that she must make a choice, between the role that she has had thrust onto her by society, and becoming her own person. “Motherhood and individuality seem mutually exclusive; thus, Edna's struggle for autonomous selfhood entails a rejection of her responsibilities as mother” (Schweitzer 162). Upon her realization that she cannot fulfill the role of mother while also continuing her awakening, Edna choses her individuality. This choice fits with Edna’s character not only because when the children were away “she did not miss them except with an occasional intense longing”
Social expectations play a major role in one’s society and not always in a positive manner. Throughout history, there have been many pieces that demonstrate this idea and each individual piece has contributed to a pathway that is gradually improving our society’s standards. One novel that clearly demonstrates the idea of women, in particular, being bound by social expectations, is The Awakening by Kate Chopin. The restrictions and expectations imposed on Edna Pontellier in this novel are based purely on her gender. Edna consistently runs counter to her society’s assumptions of womanhood.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin follows a common theme of literature during the early 1900s authors wrote about women’s suffrage. She uses Edna in the novel to show how women were viewed in this particular time period. Peggy Skaggs alludes that Chopin’s life experiences have affected her writing: “Her life and experiences as a women apparently affirmed the truths she expressed about Feminism and her development as a literary artist