The Role Of Sexism In The Awakening By Kate Chopin

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Marriage is a historical institution that is thousands of years in age. Throughout time marriage has evolved; sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. One common element, present through all of history, is the idea of women submitting to men. Sexism is “timeless” and continues to this day. The end of the nineteenth century was marked by a wave of women 's’ rights and feminist movements as women grew tired of their subordination and sought change. They were successful in their efforts. Author Kate Chopin received critical acclaim, and opposition, with her feminist literature in the time. Her famous novel, The Awakening, shocked the world. She portrays women “waking up” from their roles as wives and seeking freedom. In “ The Story…show more content…
It utterly overwhelms and excites her, but affects her marriage drastically. In her time, female independence and marriage did not work well together. Her awakening makes her cognizant of her position in her marriage. She realizes her unhappiness. She realizes her frustration. While Louise believes her husband to be dead, she is shown to be thinking, “There would be no one to live for those coming years; she would live for herself” (Chopin 2). She does not want to live for her husband, as she would in a traditional marriage. This kind of self-assertion she exhibits could not work in a traditional marriage. In fact, marriage restricts freedom. As one is bound to another, they lose their independence. In “Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour,’” Lawrence I. Berkove writes “Marriage of course restricts freedom. Whoever marries, or even loves, gives up large areas of freedom- usually willingly” (Berkove 155). Marriage is a compromise; however, Louise becomes unwilling to sacrifice her new-found freedom. Marriage is inherently oppressive. Taking traditional gender roles into account, women submit and sacrifice more of their lives for their husband. In a healthy marriage, or any relationship, one member cannot have full autonomy, or else risk the relationship. Independence and relationships do not mesh…show more content…
Through narration, each members’ love for the other is shown. Brently’s love for Louise is described through, “the face [Brently’s] that had never looked save with love upon her” (Chopin 2). One of the few descriptions on the static Brently states his unyielding love for her. His steadfast love is not what represses Louise. What represses Louise is the institution of marriage itself. She feels confined within the bounds of marriage. Louise’s love is less certain. On her feelings it is narrated, “And yet she had loved him--sometimes. Often she had not” (Chopin 2). While Brently’s love is constant, Louise’s love wavers. Berkove describes this situation, “Of course, even married people who sincerely love each other have occasional disagreements and may not feel much love for the other at particular times” (Berkove 154). There is no argument that there is love in the marriage. Their relationship appears to be a normal marriage on the surface; however, there is obviously a problem, but it is revealed implicitly. The narrator suggests that a repressive force on Louise. Her appearance is described as “She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength” (Chopin 1). She is actually young, but has characteristics associated with older women, such as the lines on her face. She is indicated to have gone through repression over the years. Constant
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