The Role Of Freedom In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Chopin explores the question “what must a woman forsake in order to be free and to what extent should women be allowed to be free”. Edna originally abides by her husband’s wishes; however, she uncovers the unknown freedom that men openly participate in. In order to achieve freedom, Edna must forsake society and its judgement, men, and friends. Although she attempts to do this, The Awakening evaluates the amount of freedom a woman should be granted by portraying women with differing amounts of freedom: Reisz who lives alone with complete freedom, Adele who abides to her husband’s every will without freedom, and Edna who struggles to achieve absolute freedom. This portrayal of society and women demonstrates the…show more content…
Society forcefully imposes their misogynistic views upon every citizen so that there may be order and structure. Creole norms give no leeway for actions so that there remains no uncertainty concerning acceptable actions. “The Doctor would have like during the course of conversation to ask, ‘Is there any man in the case?’ but he knew his Creole too well to make such a blunder as that” (Chopin 64). The doctor does not dare to question Edna’s faithfulness because Creole norms demand women remain faithful to their husbands, as they do not have the right to divorce. Edna disagrees with society prohibiting women’s freedom, so she rebels and rejects the judgement of others. When Edna learns of Robert’s planned departure for Mexico she becomes irritable and refuses to socialize with others, although society expects her to do so. Adele fruitlessly attempts to draw Edna back to her place in society. “‘Are you not coming down? Come on, dear; it doesn’t look friendly.’ ‘No,’ said Edna” (Chopin 42). This rejection of expectations begins Edna’s rebellion against society, which quickly increases in severity. Edna’s increasing dismissal of societal expectations worries Leonce. When conversing with the doctor he says, “She hasn’t been association with any one. She has abandoned her Tuesdays at home, has thrown over all her acquaintances, and goes tramping about by herself, moping in the
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