feminaw Portrayal of Men in Kate Chopin's The Awakening Essay

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The Portrayal of Men in The Awakening         


When Kate Chopin develops the male characters in her novel, The Awakening, she portrays men in a very objectionable light. For the most part, her men are possessive, cowardly and self-serving. She seems a trifle unfair and biased in her portrayal of men, yet this view is necessary for Chopin to get her point across. She uses the characters of Mr. Pontellier, Robert, Alcee and a few other men to demonstrate her observations of the middle class man in the society of her day.

Firstly, Mr. Pontellier represents Kate Chopin's supposition that in society men objectify women. A wife is a man's property, he "looks at his wife as one looks at
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Alcee is merely playing games with Edna, meanwhile he satisfies his own


needs without caring at all about her,"his manner was so genuine that it often deceived himself"(132). She entrusts him with her thoughts,"I'm going to pull myself together for a while and think-try to determine what character of a woman I am"(137-38), however Alcee callously answers with "Don't. What's the use. Why bother thinking about it when I can tell you"(138). When Edna relates a piece of advice Mademoiselle Reisz gave her "The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings"(138), he only replies "I've heard Mademoiselle Reisz s partially demented.....I'm told she's extremely disagreeable and unpleasant" (138) expressing clearly that he doesn't support Edna or her awakening.

Furthermore, Chopin perceives that men in her society were cowards as she demonstrates with Robert Lebrun. Here is a man who "each summer at Grand Isle had committed himself the devoted attendant of some fair dame of damsel..sometimes a young girl or a widow; but more often as not some interesting married woman"(53). One day while walking with Madame Ratignolle, she asks him to "let Mrs. Pontellier alone" because "she might make the unfortunate blunder of taking Robert seriously"(64). "Why shouldn't she take me seriously? Am I comedian, a clown, a

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