Women And Feminism In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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In this world where humans are creatures of habit, it is much easier to conform to a crowd and follow everyone else’s lead. One is much more likely to be judged and chastised for expressing individuality than for remaining a follower who does not think for him or herself. In The Awakening, as Edna Pontellier makes her way through the process of discovering herself through a spiritual awakening, she goes against the social norms and expectations that she is accustomed to, which ultimately leads to her alienating herself from all of the people around her.
During the time in which The Awakening was published, women were still for the most part expected to be seen and not heard. A woman’s job in life was to be a good mother and a good wife, period. Although feminist movements were now on the horizon, the subject of women standing up and speaking out for their rights was extremely controversial. As a feminist, Kate Chopin incorporated feminism in The Awakening through characters such as Edna Pontellier and Mademoiselle Reisz. Because the subject matter was so controversial and taboo, Chopin received a lot of negative feedback when she published the novel, with readers calling it “morbid, vulgar, and disagreeable.” The reactions Chopin received in response to her novel are very similar to how the people within Edna’s society react to her journey of a spiritual awakening. Both were intensely judged and alienated due to their unique views that did not match up with the masses.
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