Although The Awakening was written during the Victorian era, Kate Chopin completely diverts from a typical damsel in distress storyline.
It begins with the main character Edna Pontellier residing with her husband Leonce and two sons in France. They live a traditional family lifestyle, with Edna oppressed under the dominance of her husband Leonce, resulting in her becoming “burnt beyond recognition”.
While a storyline centring purely on gender expectations would have fulfilled the Victorian ‘norm’, Chopin ignores such patriarchal values, and in doing so shocks both Victorian and modern readers.
Edna begins to ‘awaken’ from her oppression through the vessel of a secondary character, Adele Ratignolle, and sets out on a mission to find freedom for herself, rather than being confined to the mother and wife role made for her by social expectations.
Chopin does this effectively through “the voice of the sea” that cannot and will never “cease” after Edna’s discovery of personal freedom.
The appearances of the sea always help to form the best parts of The Awakening as they increase the speed of the novel, and also help provide a better insight for the reader into Chopin’s intention behind the novel due to their resemblance to feminist ideas.
And although for Edna freedom results in her death through the means of suicide, the sea which “curled up to her white feet” comforts her until the very end.
Therefore, while gender inequality seems to be narrowing in 2016, I still feel feminism is necessary, for both female and males and everyone should get their hands on The Awakening.
It changed my perspective on life, and I’m sure it will change yours too!
Written by Naomi Elliott
Posted on 03/09/2016
by Rochelle Roberts filed under