Essay on The Importance of Male Characters to Kate Chopin

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The Importance of Male Characters to Kate Chopin

Why and how does she use them?

Kate Chopin is an author who examines the position of women in 19th century Louisiana. She describes their plight, living in a society designed by men, one that confines women’s behavior. It was imperative for Kate Chopin to highlight her male characters, as they ultimately are responsible for her heroines’ actions. The “Awakening” and “Desiree’s Baby” are two examples that deal with the issues resulting from a male dominant society, though the stories vary in their approach. Men and marriage are however the common factors that symbolize the obstacles that Kate Chopin’s women face.

In “The Awakening” Edna, the main character enjoys being
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“He fell in love, as men are in habit of doing and pressed his suit with an earnestness and ardor which left nothing to be desired.” (p.31)

Pontellier courts Edna with great love and passion, trying to win her heart. When Edna decided to regain control of her life she had “a feeling of exultation” which “overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul.” (p.43-44) Pushing her quest for independence to the limit “she grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength.
She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before.” (p.
43-44)

Throughout “The Awakening” Edna longs to get away from her husband and attain total freedom of body and mind. She therefore, tries to escape her marriage through friends, music and love affairs. Reflecting on her life, Edna views her husband “like a person whom she married without love as an excuse.” (p.110). Furthermore, she looks at men as convincing and sly, who try to trap women with their love. In the end, as Edna feels that she has gained control of her life, she leans her head against the high-backed chair and spreads her arms like one who
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