Feminism In "The Awakening" Essay

1091 words - 5 pages

In the novel The Awakening, by Kate Chopin the critical approach feminism is a major aspect of the novel. According to dictionary.reference.com the word feminism means, “The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” The Awakening takes place during the late eighteen hundreds to early nineteen hundreds, in New Orleans. The novel is about Edna Pontellier and her family on a summer vacation. Edna, who is a wife and mother, is inferior to her husband, Leonce, and must live by her husband’s desires. While on vacation Edna becomes close friends with Adele Ratignolle, who helps Edna discover she must be “awakened”. Adele is a character who ...view middle of the document...

However, many women did not have the courage to stand up for themselves, and kept living miserable, and boring lives. They were not allowed to voice their opinions, or have any rights. The main character, Edna, portrays the motherly woman, who does not like the tasks society has deemed acceptable for women. Moreover, as Edna begins to become free she is more rebellious and begins to question everything. According to “Women of Color in The Awakening” by Elizabeth Ammons, “ It is the story of a woman of one race and class who is able to dream of total personal freedom because an important piece of that highly individualistic ideal… has been brought to her.” This means that this novel follows the theme of many other works of literature, in that a heroine is trying to seek free control because she knows she can obtain freedom. Women’s roles play a key factor to the feminism shown throughout the novel.
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 they cannot be treated like objects they are people too. Adele is also main woman character, who helped Edna break away. Adele helps Edna want, “to swim far out, where no woman had swum before,” (37), and be liberated. Women characters throughout the novel help show the constant struggle of feminism.
There were many influences that impacted the novel The Awakening, in regards to including the critical approach feminism. The author, Kate Chopin’s life had a huge impact on the novel. For example, Edna was adulterous to her husband because she was in love with another man. According to the excerpt, “Gender, Race, and Region, by Helen Taylor, “Kate Chopin herself, assumed to have been an unfaithful wife and negligent mother, suffered the fate of Molly Wollenstonecraft rather than George Sand,”...

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