Gender Roles In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, fits into a feminist lens as the text is greatly affected by the way the characters from the book are expected to act. Each character’s role correlates with their gender, and how a person of their gender is supposed to behave during the late 1800s. Women were treated unequal to men, and because of this, husbands were very oppressive to their wives as evidenced by the way Leonce treats Edna. The characters in this book are expected to submit and act according to their gender roles; in other words, males being dominant and females being subordinate. In the beginning of the text, this is the way Edna behaves; however, she transforms throughout the book and becomes a very different person as she breaks away from society’s…show more content…
She begins to break away from societal constraints and starts making her own decisions. Edna’s transformation begins when she first goes into the ocean with Robert. The ocean represents Edna’s freedom. Even during the ending of the book, when she swims into the distance of the ocean and dies, she is finally free. The first time she goes out into the ocean with Robert, she takes off her ring, showing that she is not Leonce’s property anymore and she is her own person. In addition, she later teachers herself how to swim, showing that she is independent and can do things on her own. She swims further out than any other woman has swam before. This symbolizes that she is acting like no other woman has before, and trying to revolutionize the way women are treated. After coming home from her distant swim, Edna lays outside on the hammock. When Leonce demands Edna to come inside, Edna responds by saying “’I mean to stay out here. I don’t wish to go in, and I don’t intend to. Don’t speak to me like that again; I shall not answer you’” (Chopin 41). This is the first time she stood up to her husband by not obeying him. Edna then places another milestone during Mr. Pontellier’s trip to New York. She begins to have a life of her own. Edna goes out to horse races and starts seeing another man, Arobin. Most importantly, she decides to move out and buy her own small house. She makes up her mind that she wants to be with Robert instead of her

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