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The Awakening Of Women Essay, Research Paper

The Awakening is a commentary on the restraints faced by women at the turn of the century. The novel is really all about independence and understanding. The peace that is offered in the promise of personal freedom concerning love and all else, shown in this novel, is enticing. Chopin writes about a woman who continues to reject the society around her, a notion too radical for Chopin’s peers. Edna Pontellier has the traditional role of both wife and mother, but deep down she wants something more, which was difficult to acknowledge in the restricted Victorian society. This novel shows Edna going through a metamorphosis during which she shirks what society believes women should do and focuses on herself instead.

Chopin makes several political statements in The Awakening. Chopin acknowledges sexuality in women and women s rights in a time period where these were unspoken and unacceptable. Chopin acknowledges the boundaries and consequences of marriage because Edna sees what her limits are and makes efforts to stretch and break free of those limits. When she commits suicide she becomes victorious because she doesn t have to give up her identity and conform to the social norms which suppress her sexuality, individuality and rights.

Choked by the cloistering, moralistic garb of the Victorian era, yet willing to give up everything–even her own life–for the freedom of unencumbered individuality, Edna Pontellier epitomizes the consummate New Woman of the late nineteenth century. She embodies the social ideals for which women of that era were striving, and are still striving for today. She is individualistic–a maverick. She is passionate. She is courageous and intrepid. She is the definitive persona which thousands of women during the late nineteenth century exalted as a role model.

Leonce Pontellier shows the feelings of Victorian society toward women. He treats Edna as a possession rather than a person, and views her awakening as a burden and embarrassment. Robert Lebrun continues to illustrate the constricting Victorian society when he leaves Edna instead of being with her because she is married and cannot start over with him. Madame Adele Ratignolle represents everything that Edna is not. She is the perfect Victorian woman and exactly what Edna goes against during her awakening. Mademoiselle Reisz plays the music that contributes to Edna s awakening. Alcee Arobin is Edna s lover, whom she continues to see even though those around her find it scandalous.

The Awakening depicts a woman going through the ultimate awakening. Edna leaves behind the Victorian notions that have confined her throughout life and starts to concentrate on her desires. Chopin uses this transformation to advocate individual rights while speaking against the strict notions of Victorian society. The moral of this book can be applied just as much today. There are still aspects of our society that stifle, in respect to women and to others as well. While traveling with Edna through her metamorphosis, the reader realizes the injustices that society does to the individual. This novel leaves the reader seeking self-understanding and wanting to change the world.

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