The Awakening by Kate Chopin
TheAwakeningby Kate Chopin
Bornin 1850, Kate Chopin was an American author who wrote two novels andmany short stories in her career. Most of the works she did wereconcerned with the lives of the intelligent women. The storieswritten by the author became widely recognized in the United Statesas most popular magazines published them. The two novels written bythe author include AtFaultand TheAwakening,which was released in 1899. While the first novel did not receive alot of attention, many readers condemned the second book, and thismade it famous. Some libraries in the United States stopped stockingthe book. When Chopin died in 1904, her two novels seemed to havebeen forgotten by readers although her stories continued to enjoysome dominance. In TheAwakening,Chopin focuses on the life of a woman, who is married but wants togain freedom and live a life that is fulfilling. Several worldviewshave been presented in the book as will be discussed in this paper.
Worldviewsin Kate Chopin’s TheAwakening
Thebook highlights particular worldviews and how women are treated bythe society. One of the controversial worldviews presented in thetext is infidelity and female sexuality. Edna is a middle-class womanwho is expected to play the role of a mother and wife. However, sheis obsessed with self-fulfillment and has the desire to becomeautonomous. Edna deviates from the traditional views and roles thatwomen were supposed to play in the American Victorian society. Unlikeother women during this period, Edna appears as a heroine who wantsto challenge the traditional views about women and their place in thesociety. The main character in the book is against the societalviews, which considered women a weaker gender compared to men (Chopin12).
Anotherworldview that has been presented in the book is the issue offeminism and its relation to women rights. Edna makes attempts tochampion for her rights and gain recognition as an independent woman.As a young wife, Edna seems to have been awakened by her sexualdesires, which are not fulfilled in her marriage. As depicted in thebook, traditions gave some expectations to women and this limitedtheir ability for self-expression. Women in the Victorian era wereexpected to perform domestic duties such as caring for theirfamilies. As a result, they did not have an opportunity to have theirdesires satisfied (Chopin 15). The awakening that Edna goes throughenables her to realize her identity. The text depicts the extent towhich women’s efforts to gain independence were met with resistancefrom men.
Self-expressionis another worldview that has been depicted in the book. When Ednagains the ability to express herself, she experiences a revelation ofher emotions, which were initially repressed. This indicates thatwomen’s ability to express themselves can enable them to air theirgrievances without any fear. When women air their views frankly,liberation from the traditional norms becomes possible. After Ednalearns that it is possible to express emotions freely, she sees itpossible to articulate her emotions and talk about her feelings.Expression through art can go a long way in enabling women to gainthe recognition they need. A scene is depicted in the book wherebyEdna learns how to express herself through music, especially when shelearns how to play the piano. This plays an essential role inenabling her to overcome despair and solitude (Chopin 20).
Inthe text, it has been depicted that the discovery of oneself is aform of awakening that can be associated with a rebirth. Edna isundergoing a rebirth, and her understanding of the world can belikened to that of a child is a form of rebirth. Throughout the book,Edna has been depicted as an insensitive person who does not have anyregard for others. Just like a child, she is unrealistic and is notconcerned with the consequence that her actions have (Chopin 22).
Anotherworldview depicted in the novel is that the discovery of self ispossible when a person overcomes social forces. To be awakened, onehas to lose him or herself and discover a new self, which isdifferent from how one was previously. For instance, when Edna learnsabout how to swim, she starts reaching for greater things in life.Moreover, self-isolation leads to the discovery of self. Asdemonstrated in the book, Edna comes to learn her true self byisolating herself from other people. One can get lost when they arededicated to achieving the roles and expectations of the society.This can be evidenced by the fact that characters such as Mr.Pontellier appear as lost as a result of the relationship she haswith others. The transformation that Edna goes through is meant toelicit self-realization in her. Awakening enables her to perceive theworld through her views and not those of the society (Chopin 25).
TheAwakeningrepresents women’s desire to gain equal rights with men and haveaccess to social and political freedom. The book also depicts theefforts of women to access career and education opportunitiesaccorded to men during this period. In the period when the book waswritten, the field of art and literature was dominated by men.Through the book, Chopin portrayed that women had become tired ofbeing objects to be used in literature and arts. Rather, they wantedto take part in the creation of art pieces and communicate theirconcerns through their works. This has been highlighted through theexperiences of Edna, who wants to live a life that does not revolvearound the children and her husband. The social expectations of thesociety she lives in contradict with her views of the world. Theliterary movement of naturalism has been depicted in the book. Basedon this movement, every individual has the determination to makeinformed choices and decisions about how they want their life to be(Chopin 30).
InTheAwakening,the author discusses a woman by the name Edna who is rebellious andchallenges the social norms of the society. Edna is not contended tobe just a wife who gets orders from her husband. The awakeningenables her to learn to do some things on her own, and this is a formof self-discovery. As depicted in the novel, there are sometraditional norms and beliefs, which confined a woman to the role ofa housewife should is only expected to care for children. However,Edna’s character reveals that it is possible for women to overcometraditions and gain freedom. From the events in the book, it isapparent that women should be given equal opportunities with men asthis can enable them to realize their full potential.
Chopin,Kate. TheAwakening.New York: Wiley, 2016. Print.
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