Individualism In The Awakening

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1. Introduction
Published in 1899, The Awakening caused a lot of controversy and attracted strong criticism for its uncharacteristic representation of women, marriage, and society. The novel depicts the pursuit for self-identity and individualism of its protagonist Edna Pontellier in the conservative and socially restricted world of Victorian America. Edna is a woman who wants to pursue her passion for art and freedom, but cannot do so while being the obedient wife and doting mother society expects her to be. Her role as a leisure-class woman clashes strongly with her desire to be free and fulfilled. For these and other reasons contemporary critics called her selfish and immoral. The novel raises the question whether women can be good wives …show more content…

Not being a Creole, Edna finds most of the conversations of Creole people shocking for they are far more open and honest that was the norm of mainstream American society at the time. Adele and Robert are telling Edna that every summer Robert finds a married woman to whom he devotes himself as an attendant. They joke about Adele having been that woman before and they laugh at the thought of her husband being jealous; for Creole men are never jealous, they know without a doubt that their wives belong to them. Here, the author shows us some of the more intricate details of Creole society; it is acceptable for a young, unmarried man to flirt with a married woman, to profess his love for her, and it is acceptable for the woman to return the flirtations - because the social restrictions are so deeply embedded in the people that even the idea of a woman betraying her husband is bizarre. Edna noted that the way Robert treats her differs from the “serio-comic tone” he uses when talking to Adele. She sketches Adele while they are sitting, but is ultimately unsatisfied with the result, since the sketch looks nothing like the model. Adele soon takes her leave and Robert and Edna stay alone. He asks her to go swimming, she says she doesn’t feel like it but he persuades her to go

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