Female Empowerment in Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" Essay

7923 Words Feb 7th, 2015 32 Pages
Heinrich-Heine-Universität
Wintersemester 2010/11 Vertiefungsmodul Kurs: American Realism and Naturalism - Short Stories Seminarleiter: Georg Schiller
Datum der Abgabe: 16.04.2011

Female Empowerment in Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”

Anjana Dhir

BA Englisch KF, Geschichte NF 3. Semester Table of Contents

1. Introduction 3 2. The French – Creole society of Louisiana 4 2.1 Cultural background 4 2.2 French-Creole women 5 3. The Role of Women 6 4.1 Edna vs. Madame Ratignolle 7 3.1.1 “A Valuable Piece of Property” 7 3.1.2 Edna – The Unusual Woman 9
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Chopin’s novel caused quite a lot of criticism and as a result it was publicly neglected. Her novel was called a “story […] not really worth telling” and she was told to “devote that flexible, iridescent style of hers to a better cause” as her story seemed to conflict with the moral standards of society of those days.
The Awakening can therefore be seen as one of the first female oriented novels which portray self-discovery and concede the sexual desires of a woman.

In the following this study will analyze in which aspect The Awakening can be seen as a feminist novel and whether in regard to Edna’s awakening the theme of female empowerment can be depicted by using certain passages from Chopin’s novel.
Beginning with a brief overview on French - Creole society of the 19th century in Louisiana and focusing on the role of women in this society. The analysis will also approach the understanding of female oriented literature by looking at theories of feminist criticism, concentrating on the patriarchal ideology.
Chopin confronted the social conventions of her time by portraying a protagonist like Edna Pontellier who recognizes herself and her sexual desires and has the courage to break through the preset image society has adapted for women. Consequently, examining the author’s style and looking at the imagery and

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