Adéle In The Awakening

Powerful Essays
It is also imperative to note, as affirmed by Roy Baumeister in The Self and Society, self-identity represents a crucial means by which the “physical being takes its place in society” and where that particular society “assigns roles to the individual and shapes the values” of that person (191). Accordingly, as ascertained by Penny Russell In Search of Woman 's Place, a woman of the nineteenth-century “belonged within respectable society to the extent that she was seen to be attached to her family and home” as they “determined to a great extent her place in the social hierarchy” (28). Thus, the patriarchal culture of Grand Isle can be recognised as the catalyst behind the internal conflict plaguing The Awakening’s protagonist: Edna…show more content…
It is through the analysis of Adéle’s character we can achieve a more thorough understanding of Edna’s motivation for cultivating her self-autonomy. This contrast is conveyed most evidently within Adéle’s acquisition of the role of quintessential ‘mother-woman’: “the embodiment of every womanly grace and charm […] Her name was Adéle Ratignolle” (The Awakening 10). In fact, as affirmed by Wendy Martin in New Essays on The Awakening, Adéle can be considered the “empress of the ‘mother-women’ of Grand Isle” (45). Chopin exemplifies how these women completely surrender their own sense of being, both spiritually and intellectually, to the whims and avidity of their family in Chapter Four: “They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels” (10). Furthermore, as highlighted by Léonce and Edna’s relationship in Chapter One, the husband maintains an intellectual hegemony over his wife that disparages her as a commodity rather than an equal companion: “looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage” (4). As supported by Harold Bloom in Kate Chopin, Adéle often “rationalises all of her behaviour as good for her husband and children” that…show more content…
In fact, the subject of self-identity is prevailing in both texts. This treatise has also referenced numerous examples of characters with a chillingly low level of self-affirmation. In the case of Beloved, many characters’ very sense of being is a synthetic creation embodied by the malice, prejudice and exploitation imposed on them by their tenure as slaves. For example, this treatise has cited evidence to support the proclamation that Sethe’s self-identity is composed entirely out of the malevolent memories she cannot dispose of. The most prominent example is Schoolteacher’s dismantling of Sethe’s self-perception as a human being by comparing her to an animal. Indeed, if you strip away one’s very essence as a person, a legitimate and solid sense of self cannot be envisioned. Also, the fact that Baby Suggs is one of the only characters in Beloved that expressed self-autonomy in the form of name that is not directly a product of white oppression does grant further insight into the destructive nature of slavery. Your name is the primitive infrastructure of your identity. Without one of connotation, undoubtedly, a person is depraved of the chance to develop any sense of autonomy. Furthermore, societal coercion can greatly impact one’s self-identity. Take the
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