Freedom In The Awakening

The novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin is a story about Edna Pontellier’s struggle for freedom. Edna, who lived in New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century, was trapped in the strict gender roles and societal expectations that plagued women during this era. The role of society dictated that she be devoted to her children and her husband Leonce, but Edna yearned for something more. The Awakening illustrates the way in which different aspects of society affect Edna’s struggle for freedom.

The novel was published in 1899 and at this time, women were given very little freedom compared to modern society which makes The Awakening an important piece to study when trying to understand the ideas of novel The Awakening. Edna’s struggle for freedom is shown by her life choices, the lessons she teaches herself about others, and how society affects her desires to be free. The role that society has on Edna in The Awakening is vital when understanding the ideas of The Awakening because it aids in painting a picture of what women were expected to do during this time period.

The story illustrates how Edna chooses to rebel against societal norms when becoming an individual outside of gender roles, which results in Edna’s final act being her suicide by drowning at the conclusion of The Awakening. When discussing The Awakening, much attention is given to Chopin’s writing style through use of symbolism, imagery, and personification which help to drive the story. The quotes that are sited from The novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin tend to focus mostly on Edna as a woman who seeks freedom, but not as much attention is paid to Edna as an individual outside of her gender roles.

The reader tends to see more of Edna’s struggle for freedom happening within the context of female oppression rather than treating The Awakening as a work depicting a struggle for freedom in general. The novel gave women a voice and it still inspires authors today with its exploration of themes about women finding themselves and their own identities away from male expectations. The ideas embodied in The Awakening can be seen throughout popular culture. The 2011 film The Help by Tate Taylor starred Emma Stone as Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, who wrote a book in The Help about the African American maids she knew.

The movie The Help also shows how women could not truly be themselves because society had too many expectations for woman to fit into these roles where they are expected to do everything that is expected of them while men are given more freedom by society . The novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin still carries messages about Edna finding herself and reaching her full potential away from societal expectations that were placed upon her because of her gender.

The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a white upper class mother living in New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century whose journey towards self-discovery manifests itself in her rejection of the feminine ideals imposed upon her by society. The novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin focuses on Edna as a female character but The Awakening can also be seen as a work depicting individual struggles for freedom in general rather than simply representing Edna’s struggle as a woman, which is often the focus when studying The novel The Awakening.

The society in The Awakening is patriarchal and oppressive to all women, not just Edna. The men make the rules for everyone; Edna has no power because she is a female and the thought of her doing what she wants and thinking for herself is unimaginable. The women can only follow orders from their husbands and must obey them at all times. The fact that Edna was able to separate herself from this oppression by having an affair with Robert Lebrun shows that even though she may be obedient to her husband on the surface, there are parts of her personality which need freedom.

These conflicting desires, between wanting both freedom and security, eventually lead to her suicide at the end of The Awakening. Edna’s desire for freedom extends from her need to break away from societal norms. The restrictive role of a wife and mother in The Awakening is seen through the life that Edna lives. The opening lines of The Awakening reflect this societal pressure by showing Edna as “a conventional woman, one whose dresses were always white and laces and who appeared chaste and virtuous”, but also by focusing on the moment rather than the action someone would take during this time period.

The fact that Edna’s dress was always white shows a stark contrast between what she could be wearing if it were not for society’s restrictions. By doing nothing about these restrictions, Edna symbolizes how all women are held back by their sexuality, even when men think they aren’t. The image of Edna in white, which later changes to black at the end of The Awakening, represents her virtue and how it is taken away by society’s mores. The loss of innocence slowly takes place throughout The Awakening, beginning with Edna walking on the beach barefoot without a bonnet, until she eventually drowns herself in the sea at the end.

This struggle for freedom is an incredibly important theme that can be seen throughout The Awakening. It is very clear that men are the ones who make all laws, while women are meant to follow them. Women have no power in The Awakening because they are looked down upon more than men. When Edna hesitates over whether or not she should speak her mind and stand up to her husband, she is given the advice “”Oh! The men, mama. The men! The good Lord intended you should take them as they are. They’ll use you while you make a fool of yourself over them; and if you don’t they say it is your own fault.

Leonce says–doesn’t he? –Leonce says that I will give myself imaginary ills, and that I do things which attract attention needlessly, all because I will not understand that man has more important business than attending to my insignificant body” (Chopin). The quote by Mrs. Pontellier praises how women are meant to trust their husband completely no matter what they do as long as he is a man. The fact that Edna looks for this guidance shows how she doesn’t believe in herself because men said so.

The quote also implies that women should not trust themselves and only trust the thoughts of men, which is just another way to show that women have no power or freedom in The Awakening. “An affair with Robert Lebrun and Madame Ratignolle’s open affection for their children show her different views on love and marriage. ” Edna Pontellier struggles to break free from oppressive societal gender roles after she realizes the emptiness of her life altering marriage to Leonce Pontellier (son-in-law) and subsequent affair with Robert Lebrun (son). The Awakening (novel) was written by Kate Chopin through the lens of Edna’s perspective.

The novel is set in the late 1800s, where women were expected to be wife and mother only, with no time for themselves or their own desires. The concept of ‘feminine purity’ shackled them in ways that they didn’t even realize until later in life. The novel explores this idea throughout with Edna’s struggle to find her own identity without compromising her femininity, with her husband Leonce Pontellier, his family members and lovers Robert Lebrun & Madame Ratignolle (wife), all who attempt to control her but also support her quest for freedom through their unique on marriage and motherhood.

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