Patriarchal Oppression In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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“[The southern woman] cannot express an opinion without having [her husband] sneer it down. He ridicules her efforts at self-improvement, […] and she feels insulted and outraged” (Dix). Dorothy Dix mentions the emotional tolls taken on Southern white women caused by the patriarchal oppression of the late 1890s. In doing so, Dix creates a comparison between the external patriarchal oppression affecting southern women, and its internal emotional effects. Kate Chopin applies this comparison to her novella, The Awakening, set in the late 1890s about a southern housewife, Edna, struggling to cope with the daily patriarchal oppression from her husband, her children, her peers, her society, and herself. Although Edna experiences external patriarchal…show more content…
For a Southern white woman in the late 1800s, children were the number one priority, however these external aspects of her life and the stigma around them have caused the internal patriarchal impact on Edna’s life to grow. This feeling of obligation that Edna has towards her children is most visible when they are absent from her life, and away: “[Her children’s] absence was a sort of relief, though she did not admit this, even to herself. It seemed to free her of a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and for which Fate had not fitted her”(Chopin 19). The external force that Edna sees her children as are not the cause of Edna’s torment, but her internal feelings for them. Inside, Edna knows she is in opposition to her society, thus she knows her must socially and biologically feel devotion towards her children. Thus Edna’s internal patriarchal oppression is an anxious reaction towards the feelings she knows she should have. Accordingly when her children are absent, she has no obligation to show affection towards them, nor responsibility. Thus Edna’s conscience realization of her inability to accept her suspected devotion for her children has caused her anxiety and thus internal patriarchal
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