Essay on Kate Chopin 's The Awakening

822 Words Mar 3rd, 2016 4 Pages
Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening tells the tragic story of Edna Pontellier, a young woman from New Orleans who struggles with her individuality in a time where women were expected to fit the tradition of homemaker and mother. Her best friend, Adele Ratignolle, fits this mold perfectly and many critics consider her to be the ideal woman. Chopin writes these two characters as foil characters to show that women should be able to embrace their individuality in the same ways as men and should not be expected to fit the conventional mold that society expects of women.
One difference between Edna and Adele would be the way their male counterparts view them. Most people consider Adele the ideal woman- even Mr. Pontellier. Chopin writes that Adele is “the embodiment of every womanly grace and charm” (10). In her article “Maternal Discourse and the Romance of Self-Possession in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening,” Ivy Schweitzer writes “Adele is a surface of cliches, easily accessible as the fulfillment of romantic ‘dreams’ in which we all take refuge from ‘reality’-including [...] the ‘reality’ of motherhood” (165). She continues “Women of the class to which Edna belongs are defined by their reproductive capacity and social caretaking role” (165). Edna is “not a mother-woman,” (10) and this knowledge upsets Mr. Pontellier. He feels like she does not fulfill her role as a wife and mother the way she should. She is not happy in the traditional roles of a woman which makes her reach for her…

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