The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of The Awakening Essay Topics. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
Running Head: “THE AWAKENING” FROM A FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE In Kate Chopin’s novel, “The Awakening”, Edna finds herself in a society where women were socially confined to be mothers and wives. This novel embodies the struggle of women in the society for independence along with the presence of women struggling to live up to the demands that their strict culture has placed upon them.
A part of Edna wants to meet the standards of mother and wife that society has set, however her biggest desire is to be a woman free from the oppression of a society that is male dominant.
Readers will find that the foundation of “The Awakening” the feminist perspective because of the passion that Edna has for gaining her own identity, and independence, which was not customary in the era of the 1800s.
Kate Chopin reveals the social construction of the setting in the novel in subtle phrases placed throughout chapter one. Readers start to understand that a male is the dominate gender from the choice of word Chopin uses to describe how Leonce’s expression after Edna returned home from bathing, “looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage” (Chopin, 2005).
This description of the husbands expression in chapter one a vital phrase when analyzing the novel from a Feminist Perspective.
Leonce viewed Edna as a piece of property that he owned rather than his partner in life. Feminism, in general, is the idea that people regardless of gender, should not oppressed and devalued by being treated as property. Reading further it is evident that, Edna is quite aware of what society expects of her. Because of this awareness of social demands and her own personal desires, Edna begins to struggle with her identity creating an inner turmoil when confronted about the care of their children.
Edna becomes so overwhelmed because she is struggle to decide whether she should conform to societies demands of serving her family, or breaking free of society to follow her desires of obtaining her independence from her husband and men in general. Edna, after understanding her oppression fully, starts to utilize the ocean as comfort and also as a means to practice being independent. In the novel, Chopin uses the ocean as a setting and also symbolism. Looking t how the ocean is used from feminist perspective, readers will understand that Edna find comfort in the ocean because since the ocean is not judgmental toward her. To Edna, the ocean is a safe zone where she can be herself. The ocean allows Edna to express her feel from site and the sounds that she hears and see, “and the everlasting voice of the sea, that was not uplifted at that soft hour. It broke like a mournful lullaby upon the night. The tears came so fast to Mrs. Pontellier’s eyes that the damp sleeve of her peignoir no longer served to dry them” (Chopin, 2005).
It Begins to become apparent to readers that the ocean reflect, and comfort to Edna as she is confronted with the emotions of how unhappy she was with her marriage. The personification of the ocean in this particular excerpt gives readers the sense that the ocean is serving as a manifestation if Edna’s thoughts and feelings. The ocean being said to voice a “mournful lullaby” is the reflection of what Edna is experiencing within. The ocean also gives Edna a chance to practice her independence when she decided to swim without guidance.
Swimming is a symbolic element of Edna taking a small step to gaining her independence. Edna views the action of swimming without guidance as a chance to test whether she is, in fact, strong enough to break free of social oppression, “She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before” (Chopin, 2005). While venturing into the ocean, she turns and notices that she didn’t get far from the shore as she thought. This realization made Edna become frightened enough to head back to the shore.
The fear that came over Edna was not just because she was swimming alone but also because she took this experience as a prediction of what would happen to her if she decided to free herself from the oppressive society she lived in, “She made no mention of her encounter with death and her flash of terror, except to say to her husband, “I thought I should have perished out there alone” (Chopin, 2005). Although she was just attempting to swim alone, she saw this experience as a great failure because the fear or “encounter with death” prevented her from moving forward with the goal that she set for herself.
The frustration that stemmed from this experience carried to that night where she asserted herself to her husband by defying his wishes. Her assertion was her first experience of freedom from oppression. “The Awakening” gives readers different view of feminism. The novel not only displays how Edna begin to gain independence from the role of an obedient wife but the novel also embodies of how Edna gains control of her body. The idea of Feminism rebukes people from being treated as property.
This notion of feminism not only applies to independence but also freedom of making decisions, in Edna’s case, Decisions about her body and sexuality. Edna cared for her husband and appreciated how well he took care of their family. However, she didn’t love him, “she had married without love as an excuse” (Chopin, 2005). This being evident in the novel, it’s no surprise the Edna started to stray from her marriage to Leonce. The estrangement between the couple started earlier in the novel with Robert Lebrun.
Although there were no indications of a physical encounter with Robert, Edna did develop an emotional relationship with Robert. Edna reaction of Robert leaving for Mexico shows the readers that she had already distanced herself emotionally from her husband and started an emotional relationship with Robert, “For the first time she recognized the symptoms of infatuation which she had felt incipiently as a child, as a girl in her earliest teens, and later as a young woman” (Chopin, 2005). The distance in Edna’s marriage grew when she came into contact with Alcee.
Edna’s relationship with Alcee was first emotional because she became fonder of him the more time they spent together; “They became intimate and friendly by imperceptible degrees, and then by leaps” (Chopin, 2005). However the new relationship with Alcee was not abruptly ended like the relationship with Robert. Edna’s relationship with Alcee then turned physical, “When he leaned forward and kissed her, she clasped his head, holding his lips to hers” (Chopin, 2005). Slowly, throughout the novel readers can see that feminist idea of Edna having the freedom to have control over her body and sexuality.
This control that only she possessed to make the decision on furthering her relationship with Alcee brought her great sorrow but it also shows how Edna had grown in obtaining her freedom from oppression. In light of Edna’s newfound freedom to control her body and sexuality, readers can connect two perspectives, Feminist and also Psychoanalytical. The Psychoanalytical Perspective enables readers to see deeper into the text and reveal deeper meanings to the story or novel. In “The Awakening”, readers can conclude that Edna’s encounters with both Robert and Alcee are both unconscious decisions that were a result from childhood experiences.
Edna reflected briefly over her childhood in chapter seven where she question why she married a man that she was not in love with. When reading this reflection in a Psychoanalytical Perspective the readers can conclude that Edna married her husband Leonce out of fear of disappointment by her father. “Add to this the violent opposition of her father and her sister Margaret to her marriage with a Catholic, and we need seek no further for the motives which led her to accept Monsieur Pontellier. For her husband”(Chopin, 2005).
Because of Edna’s fear of disappointment she looked no further for love and settled on marrying Leonce, whose religion and respectable personality would be accepted by her father. Her Father is shown to be a somewhat important force in Edna’s life by her servitude when he arrived for a visit “His coming was in the nature of a welcome disturbance; it seemed to furnish a new direction for her emotions” (Chopin, 2005). Given the fact that Edna only married her husband Leonce because of family expectation, readers can also conclude that this is why Edna was more susceptible to committing adultery both emotionally and physically.
In light of the feminist perspective, there is also a trace of the historical perspective in the novel “The Awakening”. One dominates area where Historical evidence is found in when Edna commits suicide. Although this act does mirror the idea of feminism because this was the ultimate choice that Edna could decide to do to herself there is also evidence of that the time in which the events happen played a bigger part in her decision. In the time era of the 1800s the society was male dominated.
The social construction of society left very little room for many females to seek independence from men. Edna’s passion to seek her independence from men left her secluded from the social world. The seclusion that Edna experienced made her feel like the outcast of the community. After slowly escaping the oppression that society demanded of women in the 1800s, she than found herself oppressed by her passionate personality, which distance her from her family.
However, she does care about her family she thinks that if they did not think that they could posses things would have turned out differently She thought of Leonce and the children. They were a part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul” (Chopin, 2005). “The Awakening”, is a novel about a women who struggled to find herself and freedom from the social construction in the late 1800s. The social construction that Kate Chopin chose for this novel mirrors the view of feminism for women both mentally and physically.
However in this time era the character Edna was at a disadvantage since there were limited social outlets for women of her social standing. Because of these factors, Edna ultimately made the biggest decision, committing suicide. This bittersweet novel embodies elements of feminism, historical and psychoanalytical perspectives that gives the reader a deeper and more fulfilling understanding of the novel. Reference(s) Chopin, K. (2005). The awakening [VitalSource digital version]. Raleigh, NC: Hayes Barton Press.