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The Awakening by Kate Chopin - A detailed study

Updated on August 24, 2012

The Awakening summary

Feminism is very much evident in The Awakening by Kate Chopin While reading between the lines of The awakening (by Kate Chopin), readers can find that the most crucial incident, the suicide of Edna (at the end of the book) as the consequence of her attempt to escape from everything and to tear herself away the social expectations to which she was strongly bounded to. Her mentality was one of despair in which she does not wanted to live in the way she was supposed to be. Reading thorough the mind and sole of Edna, we can see that the decision that she has taken at the end was the one and only solution for her to escape from the internal struggles she suffered. She had violated the line that marks the norm of the society (and its conventions) of the late 1800s. Edna’s despair that she will not be able to live in the ‘expected’ manner, leads to her take her own life. Edna’s sad life reminds the life of unprivileged women of her times. Edna opted suicide rather than submitting herself to the life prescribed by the society. Edna was indeed a strong feminist.

Chopin The Awakening Analysis

Edna - a feminist - As far as Edna is concerned, suicide appeared to be the right decision in her struggle for freedom and independence. The society in which she lived did not accept her radical behavior. Women were expected to be submissive in their role as a wife and mother. Even though Edna was found to be brave enough to challenge those conventions and do strange things that no women had done before, she could not make it till the end and submitted herself to death. Edna was actually becoming free (recognizing her selfhood) attaining freedom and victory that was denied to her by Robert. Edna is a woman who should have born couple of centuries later; she would never fit in the life of the 1800s. Robert’s demand for Edna to be his wife, a ‘mother-woman’, following all the social conventions and followings, were unacceptable to Edna. As far as she was concerned, such a submission to his desires is a denial of her identity. Edna was unable to face this reality and she opted not to live rather than being submissive to the followings. She does not want herself to be locked inside the societal cage in which men others wanted her to reside. Her outlook and personality made her unfit for the life of her times. Edna’s life became quite unsuitable for the role her lover, husband and what the society demanded for her. Edna’s personal desire of freedom was denied in all her relationships, her father, her husband and even Robert. Everybody denied her wish to live in her freedom and wanted her to submit her ‘sense of self’ in the role she was expected to play. Edna refuse to play these roles and her sense of self was too strong and very precious for her. "Edna's sense of self makes impossible her role of wife and mother as defined by her society; yet she comes to the discovery that her role of wife and mother also makes impossible her continuing sense of independent selfhood" (Chopin, 1982, 364). She was found to be moving into the water and swimming away from the shore where she would remember "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, 1982).

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