Theme Of Feminism In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Social paradigms are a societal construct. Survival does not depend on our ability to conform. In the Victorian era, conformity was valued above all else, especially concerning gender roles. Women were seen as objects of marriage and motherhood, nothing more. However, literary critic Katherine Thompson in an essay describes the Victorian era as the “essential beginnings of gender equity changes” (Thompson). Despite Victorian society’s rejection of any sort of feminist progressive mindset, the decades preceding allowed for these ideas to take root in the women’s suffrage movement. Kate Chopin in her novel The Awakening, explores the concept of feminist individualism and fulfillment through the characterization of the protagonist Edna. Edna throughout the novel defies gender roles and develops into a strong independent woman. Yet at the conclusion of the novel, she commits suicide. Critics for decades have tried to comprehend Chopin 's intention of this conclusion. After a…show more content…
Readers who suggest a failure on Chopin’s part are only looking at one part of Edna’s awakening. They are looking at Edna’s feminist fulfillment. As a woman, she was able to break the boundaries of conformity, which was a huge part of the overarching message of the novel. However, Edna did not exclusively discover ability to defy gender roles, she discovered her ability to determine her fate through agency. She promised to never again “belong to another than herself” (Chopin), and this is exactly what her suicide represented. Her suicide symbolised her complete authority she had over herself. Every decision she made once she was awakened was rash and defiant. Living peacefully independently would not seem fitting. Thus Chopin was able to portray a message that not only defended a woman’s right to individualism, but was able to explore the reality of mortality and the power human’s possess over natural
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