Outward Conformity In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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It is common for people in everyday society to conform to society’s expectations while also questioning their true desires. In the novel, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, the main protagonist Edna Pontellier is said to possess, "That outward existence which conforms, the inward life that questions." In other words, Edna outwardly conforms while questioning inwardly. Kate Chopin, uses this tension between outward conformity and inward questioning to build the meaning of the novel by examining Edna’s role as a wife, mother, and as nontraditional woman in the traditional Victorian period. Edna outwardly conforms to society’s expectations by marriage. In the novel, Edna often feels like her marriage was a misfortune. For example, Edna believes,…show more content…
Women during Edna’s time were supposed to be dedicated to their husbands and children, however, Edna yearned for her own independence, and as a result of wanting her own independence Edna knew that she was seen as a terrible person. For instance Edna wanted to “…try to determine what character of a woman I am; for, candidly, I don't know. By all the codes which I am acquainted with, I am a devilishly wicked specimen of the sex. But some way I can't convince myself that I am. I must think about it" (27.4). Edna fully understands that society would brand her as a terrible woman, but she does not view herself as a bad person. There is an external and internal difference that Edna hopes to one day reconcile. Chopin, instead of creating tension within Edna, created tension within the society and Edna with her newfound independence does not mind how society classifies her. Decisively, it can be concluded that the tension between outward conformity and inward questioning builds the meaning of the novel by examining Edna’s role as a wife, mother, and as nontraditional woman in the traditional Victorian period. By Edna conforming to society’s expectations, she was able to question what she truly desired. If Edna did not conform, then Edna would have not understood that she longed for independence and the novel would have no solidified
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