Essay on The New Woman By Kate Chopin

1756 Words Dec 16th, 2015 null Page
The New Woman was a feminist ideal that emerged in literature in the late nineteenth century and continued to have a profound impact on twentieth century literature. Kate Chopin’s novel, the Awakening, and Virginia Woolf’s novel, To the Lighthouse, contained characters heavily influenced by New Woman ideals. Edna Ponteiller and Lily Briscoe are “unlike the odd woman, celibate, sexually repressed, and easily pitied or patronized as the flotsam and jetsam of the matrimonial tide” (Showalter 38). Both characters challenge their male counterparts, seek independence and autonomy, and cannot be fulfilled by marriage and motherhood. Through the narratives of Edna Ponteiller and Lily Briscoe, Chopin and Woolf accentuate the traits of the New Woman. Throughout the course of the Awakening, Edna realizes that society’s expectations of womanhood and motherhood are different from her own. This realization causes her to challenge the authority of men in her life. She begins to exert herself against her husband, Leonce, after coming to the realization that she followed his orders without hesitation or consciousness. When he orders her to come inside after he has returned from his outings to the Klein’s hotel, she stubbornly settles herself in the hammock “with a writhing motion” and begins to contemplate “if her husband had ever spoken to her like that before, and if she had submitted to his command. Of course she had; she remembered she had” (Chopin 32). This is the first instance in…

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