Yaeger’s Critique of Chopin’s The Awakening
In “‘A Language Which Nobody Understood’: Emancipatory Strategies in The Awakening,” Patricia Yaeger questions the feminist assumption that Edna Pontellier’s adulterous behavior represent a radical challenge to patriarchal values. Using a deconstructionist method, Yaeger argues that in the novel adultery functions not as a disrupting agent of, but, rather, as a counterweight to the institution of marriage, reinforcing the very idea it purports to subvert by framing female desire within “an elaborate code [of moral conduct] that has already been negotiated by her society.” A reading of The Awakening that can envision only two possible outcomes for its heroine – acquiescence to her role as …show more content…
Yaeger takes issue with Tanner’s contention that extramarital desire functions in the 18th and 19th century novel as “an attack” on the rules governing “the opposed demands of private desire and public law,” rules that are “mediated” by the institution of marriage. (Tanner 13) While Yaeger agrees with Tanner that adulterous behavior by literary heroines does challenge one expression of patriarchy, Yaeger characterizes this challenge as only “mildly transgressive,” noting that “adultery remains well within the arena of permissible social trespass.” According to Yaeger, Edna’s falling in love with Robert Lebrun is an act of social misconduct that is easily imagined by, and indeed is anticipated by, the bourgeois Creole society she inhabits. Thus, Tanner errs when he equates adultery in the novel with “the possible breakdown of all the mediations on which society itself depends”; rather, Yaeger notes, for Edna “the thought or practice of adultery…is actually a conservative gesture within the larger scheme of things, another mode of social acquiescence.” Indeed,
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The video, Eyes on the Prize: Awakenings, gives an influential look into the beginning of the civil rights movement. It shared many different events that helped bring about the movement and eventually caused that Black society would have the same or similar rights as the White’s. The main events that took placed happened in the southern states, particularly in Alabama. In the US blacks were segregated and were not allowed the same rights or privileges as the white race. They also were of the poorer class and that made it harder for them to have a voice in specific matters. However, it was very strict in the south and almost everything has either a black or white section. As time passed blacks began to show small acts of courage of standing up for themselves and demanding equality.
Edna seeks occupational freedom in art, but lacks sufficient courage to become a true artist. As Edna awakens to her selfhood and sensuality, she also awakens to art. Originally, Edna “dabbled” with sketching “in an unprofessional way” (Chopin 543). She could only imitate, although poorly (Dyer 89). She attempts to sketch Adèle Ratignolle, but the picture “bore no resemblance” to its subject. After her awakening experience in Grand Isle, Edna begins to view her art as an occupation (Dyer 85). She tells Mademoiselle Reisz that she is “becoming an artist” (Chopin 584). Women traditionally viewed art as a hobby, but to Edna, it was much more important than that. Painting symbolizes Edna’s independence; through art, she breaks free from her
Throughout history, women have been expected to fit into a rigid gender stereotype. Women in the early 1900s would be expected to care for children, be able to do household duties and obey everything their husbands instructed. Those women that did not fit the stereotype were looked down upon by members of society and were often alienated. Edna, the protagonist of the novel, had to battle her inner conflict of not wanting to conform to society's standards throughout the novel. Over, and over again, she was reminded of the fact that she was different and that society did not approve of her way of thinking. In the novel The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, the author uses the characters and their actions in society to express the oppression and expectations society had towards women.
The relatively open and honest (less suppressed)culture of the Creoles is one which catalyzes her human sensibilities. Who could blame her? Especially Madame Ratignolle, and the way Chopin describes her sensuousness and warmth, would be compelling features it seems for anyone to be attracted to and to want, almost unconsciously, to emulate. Second, the attentive nature of Robert LeBrun is so marked and attractive when compared with Leonce’s domineering, controlling, even neglectful ways in which he treats (and does not treat) his family, (but with a measure of trying to placate them as the result of his own selfishness at Klein’s). When he wins, he forgets all about the candy and peanuts he promised his children. With Edna, he is talkative, but not attentive. Still, though, Edna is culturally in over her head when it comes to the sensual honesty and astonishingly implicit trust of these men to let their wives do what they do at this time in history. Thus far, I see an ostensibly lethal combination of Mme R and Robert working, however innocently in Edna’s life.
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.
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, is the story of a woman who is seeking freedom. Edna Pontellier feels confined in her role as mother and wife and finds freedom in her romantic interest, Robert Lebrun. Although she views Robert as her liberator, he is the ultimate cause of her demise. Edna sees Robert as an image of freedom, which brings her to rebel against her role in society. This pursuit of freedom, however, causes her death. Chopin uses many images to clarify the relationship between Robert and Edna and to show that Robert is the cause of both her freedom and her destruction.
Does deviating from one’s gender norms inevitably doom one down a spiral of moral corruption? Tim O'Brien, author of “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” and Ernest Hemingway, author of “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”, certainly seem to hold this view, as evident by the fates of the major female characters in their respective works. The deviance of the major female characters in both works appears to corrupt not only themselves, but also pollute their partners, causing them to suffer injury or harm as a result. The degree of injury ranges from negligible, like Fossie’s demotion and broken heart, to fatal, like the bullet that rips through Macomber’s skull. It begs the question, are these stories meant to serve as cautionary tales for their female readers, or possibly for their husbands, so they may recognize gender deviance and stop it in its tracks before their wives transform into Margot Macomber or Mary Anne Bell? This essay will analyze what such characters say about pervading views of women, both in society and in literature.
In Kate Chopin's, The Awakening, Edna Pontellier came in contact with many different people during a summer at Grand Isle. Some had little influence on her life while others had everything to do with the way she lived the rest of her life. The influences and actions of Robert Lebrun on Edna led to her realization that she could never get what she wanted, which in turn caused her to take her own life.
Although The Awakening may be seen as a tragic love story to some, it is truly a novel that displays the turning point for a woman’s role in the 1900’s. The main character, Edna Pontellier, is the epitome of the new working woman. The story centers around Edna’s discovery of her beliefs which are found through a series of awakenings and contrasted with the social norms of the time.
Sacrifices can define one’s character; the definition can either be the highest dignity or the lowest degradation of the value of one’s life. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin implicitly conveys the sacrifice Edna Pontellier makes in the life which provides insight of her character and attributions to her “awakening.” She sacrificed her past of a lively and youthful life and compressed it to a domestic and reserved lifestyle of housewife picturesque. However, she meets multiple acquaintances who help her express her dreams and true identity. Mrs. Pontellier’s sacrifice established her awakening to be defiant and drift away from the societal role of an obedient mother, as well as, highlighting the difference between society’s expectations of
Sexuality has an inherent connection to human nature. Yet, even in regards to something so natural, societies throughout times have imposed expectations and gender roles upon it. Ultimately, these come to oppress women, and confine them within the limits that the world has set for them. However, society is constantly evolving, and within the past 200 years, the role of women has changed. These changes in society can be seen within the intricacies of literature in each era. Specifically, through analyzing The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, one can observe the dynamics of society in regards to the role of women through the lens of the theme of sexuality. In both novels, the confinement and oppression of women can be visibly seen as a result of these gender roles. Yet, from the time The Scarlet Letter was published to the time The Bell Jar was written, the place of women in society ultimately changed as well. Hence when evaluating the gender roles that are derived from sexuality, the difference between the portrayals of women’s oppression in each novel becomes apparent, and shows how the subjugation of women has evolved. The guiding question of this investigation is to what extent does the theme of sexuality reflect the expectations for women in society at the time each novel was written. The essay will explore how the literary elements that form each novel demonstrate each author’s independent vision which questions the
The Awakening was a very exciting and motivating story. It contains some of the key motivational themes that launched the women’s movement. It was incredible to see how women were not only oppressed, but how they had become so accustomed to it, that they were nearly oblivious to the oppression. The one woman, Edna Pontellier, who dared to have her own feelings was looked upon as being mentally ill. The pressure was so great, that in the end, the only way that she felt she could be truly free was to take her own life. In this paper I am going to concentrate on the characters central in Edna’s life and her relationships with them.
The subjects of the two novels, Edna Pontellier and the Narrator, undergo a similar change; at the onset of the novel they meet all societies expectations and standards for women of their time- Mrs. Pontellier is described as shy and reserved and neither protagonist ever disobey their husbands- but with each coming page, the women convert into someone unrecognizable to their antierior selves. Though their metamorphose are both ignited by a new environment, they had internally harbored yet suppressed their need for independence and freedom. Like these two, every woman holds creativity and free will; however during this time they were unable to practice them, as doing so was almost unheard of and rarely tolerated. The Narrator and Edna themselves serve to represent the healthy creative urges within women that have been suppressed.
The multiplicity of meanings and (re)interpretations informing critical studies of The Awakening reveal a novel ripe for deconstructionist critique. Just as Chopin evokes an image of the sea as symbolic of Edna’s shifting consciousness (“never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude,”138), likewise the deconstructionist reading of a text emphasizes fluidity over structure: “A text consists of words inscribed in and inextricable from the myriad discourses that inform it; from the point of view of deconstruction, the boundaries between any given text and that larger text we call language are always shifting,” (297). From this
Women characters also depict the feminist critical approach throughout the novel. Society views women as being inferior to men. For example, The Awakening states that Mr. Pontellier, “… looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of property which has suffered some damage,” (3), which shows he does not appreciate his wife. He treats Edna as if she was an object that he owned, and had full possession of. Although it takes a while for these women to break free, they end up realizing