Redefining Womanhood Through Rebellion In The Awakening

957 words - 4 pages

The Awakening by Kate Chopin contradicts the popular nineteenth century image of the ideal southern woman as the main character, Edna Pontellier, gradually realizes her dissatisfaction with her life and discovers she was meant to live for something more. This kind of thinking was unheard of during this time period, and the novel soon raised significant controversy and was “banned from the [libraries’] shelves in response to negative and damning reviews” (Dyer 19). The novel redefines femininity by showing that women do not have to be limited by domesticity or submission.
At the beginning of the novel, it is obvious that Edna’s marriage to Léonce is not entirely stable. Like every other ...view middle of the document...

She recognized that he respected her, sympathized with her, and was always extremely kind, and since her husband did none of these things, she could not help but want that from a man. Robert saw how strong and unique she was and fell in love with her too.
Edna Pontellier was generally considered an attractive woman, especially to Robert, but perhaps was not perfect according to society’s standards. Southern women were supposed to be figures of grace and beauty, like Edna’s closest female friend, Madame Adèle Ratignolle, who was considered the ideal woman in her community: “[She] was the embodiment of every womanly grace and charm…There are no words to describe her save the old ones that have served so often to picture the bygone heroine of romance and the fair lady of our dreams” (9). Both Madame Ratignolle and Edna are elegant in the way they carry themselves, their appearances, and their fashion, all of which are influenced by their Southern aristocracy. Women who spoke French and did needlework, like Madame Ratignolle, were seen as elegant in society. This is why she was the most sought-after woman in the community. “Knowledge of French in women was also emblematic of class…improving the life chances of their daughters by enhancing the opportunities for marriage to men of property and prospects” (Farnham 43). However, women during this century were forced to repress all desire. “The emphasis on the restraint of women’s passions in the post-revolutionary republic marked an important moment in the shift both in ideas about women’s sexuality and in women’s sexual behavior” (Lasser 9). By acting as if they were “unattainable,” women seemed more desirable to men. This is evident when Madame Ratignolle playfully pretends to flirt with Robert, acting like he is begging to be with her, and in return,...

Find Another Essay On Redefining Womanhood Through Rebellion in The Awakening

The Metaphorical Lesbian in Chopin’s The Awakening

615 words - 2 pages The Metaphorical Lesbian in Chopin’s The Awakening In “The Metaphorical Lesbian: Edna Pontellier in The Awakening” Elizabeth LeBlanc asserts that the character Edna Pontellier is an example of what Bonnie Zimmerman calls the “metaphorical lesbian.” It’s important to distinguish between Zimmerman’s concept of the “metaphorical lesbian” and lesbianism. The “metaphorical lesbian” does not have to act on lesbian feelings or even become conscious

The Importance of Setting in The Awakening

2249 words - 9 pages The Importance of Setting in The Awakening              Setting is a key element in Chopin's novel, The Awakening   To the novel's main character, Edna Pontellier, house is not home. Edna was not herself when enclosed behind the walls of the Pontellier mansion. Instead, she was another person entirely-- someone she would like to forget. Similarly, Edna takes on a different identity in her vacation setting in Grand Isle, in her independent

Essay on the Characters in The Awakening

818 words - 3 pages Importance of the Characters in The Awakening   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

Symbolism in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

1501 words - 6 pages considered great, if you defy those rules you are shunned and dispairaged. Thus, the piano playing becomes a symbol of societal rules and regulations. Sleep is an important symbolic motif running through the novel. Edna's moments of awakening are often preceded by sleep and she does a great deal of it. Robert Levine calls it the "sleepiest novel in the American literary canon" (71) and sees Edna's sleep patterns as a rebellion against natural

Ambiguity in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

3630 words - 15 pages awareness are pointed to in the structure of the first five chapters‹and in these chapters both the ambiguity of the positive/negative nature of Edna's awakening we have pointed out, and the ambiguity of the sensual awakening she has is underscored. The first chapter of the book is the only one in the novel where Mr. Pontellier is the narrative focalizer. The world is seen through his economic eyes, wherein Sunday is the day there are no market reports

Selfhood and Motherhood in The Awakening

1638 words - 7 pages “By all the codes which I am acquainted with, I am a devilishly wicked specimen of the sex. But some way I can't convince myself that I am (216)” Kate Chopin Kate Chopin’s The Awakening depicts Edna Pontellier’s struggle to find and assert herself within the cultural constraints of late 19th century America. Like her name “Pontellier”, which means “one who bridges,” it implies that Edna is in a transition between two worlds but not fully

Importance of Water in The Awakening

1576 words - 6 pages Importance of Water in The Awakening       Kate Chopin's The Awakening begins set in Grande Isle which is the summer get-away for a few families of New Orleans "upper-class". It is a community of cottages owned by the Lebrun family. Edna Pontellier and her husband Leonce summer there with there two children. This is the setting where Edna also develops a close relationship with Robert Lebrun. He is one of Madame Lebrun's sons who

Controversial Views in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

1273 words - 5 pages themes explored in The Awakening is that of a woman's place in society. In that time period, a woman was considered in some ways to be property of a man (Mahin 2). This is shown repeatedly in The Awakening, through the many relationships between the characters. As with many ideas throughout the book, this is depicted well through the contrast between Edna's marriage and Madame Ratignolle's (Klein 4). While Madame Ratignolle is happy to do whatever

Symbolism in Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"

1856 words - 7 pages to birds are absent form the narrative until the chapter 29. Following the summer on Grand Isle, where she had awakening experiences, she starts to express her desire for independence in New Orleans through her move to her own house, the pigeon house "because it's so small and looks like a pigeon house" (pp 84). The nickname of the pigeon house is very significant because a pigeon house is a place where pigeons, birds that have adapted to and

Use of Symbolism in Chopin’s The Awakening

744 words - 3 pages Use of Symbolism in Chopin’s The Awakening --Passage from Chapter X, pgs. 49-50 “But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who all of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over-confidence. She could have shouted for joy. She did shout for joy, as with a sweeping stroke or two she lifted her body to the surface of the water. A feeling of exultation overtook her

The Awakening: Sexuality in Nineteenth Century Literature

1499 words - 6 pages . Although concerns regarding sexuality still remain, society's tolerance level has changed dramatically over time. The history of attitudes toward sex and sexuality is a cultural process that can be seen through the literature of an era. The Awakening was the first piece of American fiction to blatantly attack the nineteenth century notion that marriage, emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy were inextricably bound together. Chopin's novel was

Similar Essays

Love In The Awakening Essay

875 words - 4 pages Perspectives on Love in The Awakening         Though Kate Chopin wrote her novel, The Awakening, in the late nineteenth century, her insight of such things as love, romance, and relationships is remarkably modern. Through Mr. Pontellier, Edna Pontellier, and Robert Lebrun, Chopin presents her opinions of love versus "romantic love." Chopin uses the Pontellier's marriage to predict the modern view of love

The Boxer Rebellion In China Essay

1394 words - 6 pages The Boxer Rebellion in China “China never wanted foreigners any more than foreigners wanted China men, and on this question I am with the Boxers every time. The Boxer is a patriot. He loves his country better than he does the countries of other people. I wish him success. The Boxer believes in driving us out of his country. I am a Boxer too, for I believe in driving him out of our country” – Mark Twain, Berkeley Lyceum, New York, Nov 23

The Image Of Womanhood In Ancient History And Today

2124 words - 8 pages childrearing against their will, to have the right to make up their own mind as to who they would vote for or against, to choose how they would benefit our society as per their own intuition and prerogative. This is a fairly new venture, one that has occurred in the last hundred years in the United States. Often it seems that we are recreate the rules, the image of womanhood is being changed into something that is not as it has always been. There has

Willy Loman, Redefining The Tragic Hero In Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman

1161 words - 5 pages Willy Loman, Redefining the Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman       The events in the life of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman are no doubt tragic, yet whether or not he can be considered a tragic hero in a traditional sense is a topic requiring some discussion. Aristotle set the criteria for qualities a character must possess in order to be considered a tragic hero. In order to reach a conclusion on