American Studies: What Gender Issues Of Its Time Does "The Awakening" Reflect

1767 words - 8 pages

"The Awakening" has been very important to women's movement. Although some people question the importance of this book in terms of effect it had on society. The main character Edna commits suicide, this has caused widely mixed opinions about the ending, some say that there was conflict between mother hood and free choice for women like getting a job to be financially independent. So most people say that her suicide was a victory over society's limitations. Others feel that she killed herself because she felt defeated by society and did not want to disgrace her children.Women's issues were still too new in the late 1800s for the book to have any impact at the time it was made. Rights for ...view middle of the document...

Her characters often held different attitudes toward themselves and society's rules. These characters tried to fit into society and, at the same time, tried to be free. Compared to other writers in her day who did not write story's that challenged society.The 19th century, saw a change in the status of women. Chopin's character, Edna Pontellier, illustrates the independent nature that women began recognizing in themselves. Edna felt that there was more to life than living in her husband's shadow and stifling her own desires and dreams like freedom having her own financial security. Some Women of the time were starting to feel the same way. As early as 1848, women gathered in New York to begin addressing issues of equality. This first gathering of women set the firm ground for the women's rights movement. Women's groups continued to organize to educate women about social and political issues pointing out to them the unfairness of how they are treated and the lack of freedom that they get compared to men. While women did gain the right to vote it was not until the 1920's this shows me that they meet a lot of resistance on their way to getting women the right to vote., these continuous efforts gained a voice in society that would not be ignored.I think Edna's actions in "The Awakening" reflect the times and the emotions felt by the many women who sought freedom.Chopin's editors tolerated her brave themes and characters actions more than did the critics and general public who were not so empathetic. Chopin wrote about life as it really was to her and did not shy away from subjects that were considered upsetting to the general public or challenging societies views. The characters in Chopin's short stories often demonstrated the battle that women had with in them self's in the 19th century. In a time when women's roles were changing, Chopin's characters found themselves questioning what they should be expected to do and what they wanted to do..Edna thinks about herself as separate from her family and society. She challenges the role society has forced upon her and courageously turns her back on it.A lot of people criticized Chopin for allowing Edna the freedom to refuse to accept her role. They also criticized Chopin's seeming sympathy for her character. This criticisium shows that the literacy world was not ready for this sort of social challenge. Even though women's roles in the real world were starting to change, Chopin's bluntness treatment of female sexuality, social importance, and freedom shook the literary world. Critics were so upset with the story so much that it was removed from libraries. Chopin continued to write, however, and to allow her characters to challenge society's views and to go beyond the very limited rules set by society. Today's critics recognize her realistic approach that gives insight into society in the late 19th century.The gender issues that the awakening shows for its times, are that women are treated as 2nd class...

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