preview

The Creole Woman In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

Better Essays
In Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, the role of women in the late 1800’s is explored through Edna Pontellier, Madam Adele Ratignolle, and Mademoiselle Reisz. The Awakening was often condemned because they claim that Chopin did not punish “her adulterous heroine [Edna Pontellier]” (Davis). However, The Awakening is considered to be Chopin’s major achievement (Davis) and “ a novel ahead of its time…” (Davis). Chopin wrote The Awakening in third person and incorporated thoughts of the other characters, sometimes interjecting her own voice, but she never let the reader avert their attention from the main character, Edna Pontellier (Green). Kate Chopin was born in St. Louis on February 8th, 1850. In her childhood, Chopin endured the death…show more content…
The Creoles believed that men were superior to the women, and they expected the women to bear their children and take care of them. Adele Ratignolle is a Creole woman who was a friend of Edna. Adele always encouraged Edna to express herself more often (Stone 61). Creole women had a different way to express themselves than Victorians (Wolff), which was what Edna was, and was shown when she was giving birth to her fourth child and told Edna to “‘ Think of the Children’” (Chopin 282). Edna truly loves her children and she “does not neglect…” them but only “neglects her mother-woman image” (Skaggs). Mademoiselle Reisz was close friends with Edna. Reisz was an unmarried woman and she supported all of Edna’s decisions. She was also considered an artist because of her love for playing the piano (Skaggs). Women are very difficult to understand and are described to be “a very peculiar and delicate organism-a sensitive and highly organized woman… It would require an inspired psychologist to deal successfully with them” (Chopin 165). Edna was different from Adele and Reisz. She did not want to take care of her children. She did not to stay with Leonce. She wanted to find her true place in life as a person (Skaggs). Edna had every right to commit her suicide. She was bound by prejudice and her actions were often condemned by many people around her, including…show more content…
In the end, she knew she could never find true happiness or freedom because of society; she chose to die instead (Skaggs). Unlike the other female characters, “Edna will not settle for living as less than a complete person; but forces beyond her control doom inexorably her search for a full, meaningful, and satisfying individuality” (Skaggs). After Robert left her, Edna’s heart shattered. The women around her did not understand what she was going through, in the end, she had to face her “awakening” alone (Elfenbein). Edna was suffering “under the liberty in which she must justify her existence. When a woman in the existential manner assumes sole responsibility for her life… freedom becomes something of a negative condition and she herself indeed [is] a solitary soul “ (Seyersted). Women in the 1800’s like Edna suffered from not being equal with men. Edna realizes that she will never be able to obtain the freedom she wants, but at the end of the novel, as Edna slowly drowns in the ocean, she realized what her true role was in life and faces her true self (Seyersted). As the novel progressed, Edna had been trying to reject society and its way of thinking. In the end, she learned to accept society’s ways, but she died knowing that she found her own
Get Access