The Awakening: America Was Not Ready For Edna Pontellier Essay

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The late nineteenth century was a time of great social, technological, and cultural change for America. Boundaries were rapidly evolving. New theories challenging age-old beliefs were springing up everywhere, such as Darwin's natural selection. This post-Civil War era also gave men and women opportunities to work side-by-side, and in 1848, the first woman's rights conference was held in Seneca Fall, New York. These events leading up to the twentieth century had polished the way for the new, independent woman to be introduced. Women "at all levels of society were active in attempts to better their lot, and the 'New Woman,' the late nineteenth-century equivalent of the 'liberated woman,' was much on the public mind" (Culley 117). …show more content…
This radiant review raised the public’s expectations as they fervently waited for the novel’s release.
Yet something had gone amiss, and instead of the expected warm praise from critics that Chopin was expecting, The Awakening was assailed with unflattering reviews. Critics considered the novel as distasteful, immoral, and a disgrace to American literature. All the pre-publishing hype led the public feeling cheated. Many thought the romanticism of sexual impurity offensive, and consequently denounced its theme.
The fact that Chopin was already a successful and popular writer further propelled the uncomfortable shock with which critics viewed The Awakening. Because of Chopin's success with her earlier works, "Bayou Folk," At Fault, and "A Night in Acadie," critics expected more of what Chopin was known for: realism and local color. They expected a novel with plush vivid language, colorful characters, and basically, a projection of Louisianan Creole life. Yes, there was local color, however, critics were too shocked and dismayed at Edna Pontellier's behavior to notice, and considered Chopin's novel morose and missing literary worth. The biggest confusion for critics was why Chopin with her undeniable writing talents would contribute to "the overworked field of sex fiction" (Seyersted 219).
Because Chopin's earlier works
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