Character Analysis of Robert Lebrun

Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” examines the implications placed on women for self expression during the 1800’s. Banned for several years by critics after its initial publication in 1899 because of its unsettling content, “The Awakening” later became a most cherished account of a woman’s journey towards self-discovery and abandonment of her conventional society. Kester-Shelton) Within that story is where we meet Robert LeBrun, A young, flirtatious and confident womanizer with a reputation to match and it is within this paper, that we will analyze the influential character of Robert LeBrun who without control, falls in a forbidden love affair with the protagonist, Edna Pontellier.

Robert, a younger man with immature tendencies, clean shaven face, yellowish-brown hair, and quick bright eyes maintains a reputation for floating in between different older women every summer. Eventually his affectionate nature catches the attention of Mrs.

Edna Pontellier, triggering her to go through a series of epiphanies or so-called awakenings where she begins the struggle between the woman her society expects her to be and the independent, self-governing woman she craves.

Robert, sifting his way in between dynamic and static characteristics, plays a significant role in those epiphanies because what begins as an innocent friendship turns into a forbidden love affair where Robert shows Edna a kind of love she had never seen from any other man, even in her own marriage to Mr. Pontellier.

Even though Robert did possess such a reputation of being a womanizer he really does harbor true feelings of love for Edna. This is seen in the comparison of Robert’s feelings for Edna versus her close friend, Madame Ratignolle. “ Meanwhile Robert, addressing Mrs. Pontellier, continued to tell one of his onetime hopeless passion for Madame Ratignolle;”—“He never assumed the seriocomic tone when alone with Mrs. Pontellier,”—“It was understood that he had often spoken words of love to Madame Ratignolle, without any thought of being taken seriously.

Mrs. Pontellier was glad he had not assumed a similar role towards herself. It would have been unacceptable and annoying. ” (Chopin, page 14-15) This really shows the affection he conceals for Edna because he remains consistent with his portrayal of his feelings rather than with both serious and comic aspects during discussions. Even though throughout his summers of courting older married women, himself nor his intensions are ever taken seriously, even his relationship with Edna starts out innocent when she treats him as if he were a pet, dragging him along with her like a dog.

According to Edna he was “always under her feet like a troublesome dog”. (Chopin, page 26) But as their summer progresses, she falls for Robert and realizes she has her own strength and the power to express herself without her husband and it was Robert that led her to that. Their affair turns into actual love and Edna, along with the readers, begins to picture Robert as physically attractive, charming, and charismatic and sees in him, all the things Edna cannot find in her husband.

When Robert realizes his true feelings for Edna, he flees to Mexico in hopes of forgetting about her, and in a moment of weakness he decides that he is not brave enough to follow through on his new found love for Edna and it could never be real because Edna is a mother, and most importantly, a married woman. Robert feels that his leaving will only protect the both of them from acting upon his forbidden love, but this only heightens Edna’s awakening. The shock of Robert’s quick announcement of his departure to Mexico is seen when the news is broken to Edna over a dinner table. As she seated herself and was about to begin to eat her soup, which had been served when she entered the room, several persons informed her simultaneously that Robert was going to Mexico. She laid her spoon down and looked about her bewildered. He had been with her, reading to her all the morning, and had never even mentioned such a place as Mexico. She had not seen him during the afternoon; she had heard someone say he was at the house, upstairs with his mother.

This she had thought nothing of, though she was surprised when he did not join her later in the afternoon, when she went down to the beach. ” (Chopin, page 55) Even though Edna doesn’t spell out her exact feelings, it’s here that you can feel the desperation that takes over her when she learns of Roberts plans to depart from New Orleans. The tenderness of Robert’s character can be further analyzed as Edna’s awakening is beginning; Robert’s love for her soon brings him back to New Orleans, when he realizes he cannot live away from her.

He is hiding in a hell of shyness when he returns which is unlike him, but he does in fact, go through with actually telling Edna that he does love her but cannot act on his love because of her marriage. Robert is a practical man, knowing that it is not ethical to take Edna away from her family and husband, but practically takes the form of a masochist when proclaiming his love for her. Throughout the novel, Robert is compared to Alcee Arobin, a character well known as the town’s bad boy who has had numerous sexual encounters with other women, married or not, a comparison that Robert is not fond of.

Wayne Batten of the Southern Literary Journal, critiques this comparison in saying, “Edna, accordingly, could have learned that the fantasies she constructs with Robert Lebrun do not make his attraction fundamentally different from the unembellished lure of Arobin. ” (Batten) This is simply saying that Edna mistakenly thought of Arobin’s passion as the same as the love that Robert feels for her. Later in the story, a doctor by the name of Dr. Mandelet walks Edna home after becoming faint watching Madame Ratignolle go through her fourth round of childbirth, he suspects she has returned her attentions back to Alcee, but as the reader knows, she is about to consummate her long-incubating passion for Robert. (Batten)

Robert rejects the idea as Edna quickly tries to explain why consummating their love is not wrong because she is, in fact, her own independent woman. Robert does not have the same passion for Edna and he cannot go through with his feelings for her although his love is so powerful. She buried her face in his neck and said good bye again. Her seductive voice, together with his deep love for her, had enthralled his senses, had deprived him of every impulse but the longing to hold her and keep her. ” (Chopin, page 147) This only further proves that although he has such a commanding desire to have Edna in every way, he stands firm in his decision, seeing the impossibility in the situation. As Edna is stuck in a daydream, Robert understands their reality. Robert stands firm in that reality, trying to remain practical about the whole situation.

Finally the last we see of Robert LeBrun is in his heartfelt but remorseful flee, only leaving behind a note for Edna that simply states, “Goodbye because I love you”. (Chopin, page 152) And like a moon that never shows its face, the words are not there, but his underlying message contains his feelings for her and the reasons why he cannot act upon them. This shows a true irony as he says goodbye to her for good, a devastating farewell that sends Edna into the final stage of her “awakening” with her new found sense of independence and self expression as she gives her body to the sea, committing suicide.

Looking back over the storyline we see how significant Robert Lebrun and the way he tried to manage his desire and love for Edna had truly been to the development of both characters. Through the analysis of Robert we learn of his morals and his attempts to remain practical even though he does love Edna and it leads one to wonder if Robert had not loved Edna in the way he did, if she would have found that reckless sense of independence that eventually consumed her, or if Robert would have matured enough to recognize when to walk away from a forbidden love for the betterment of someone else.

It goes to show just how one person can awaken your soul to a new perspective and change your life entirely, whether that may be good, bad, or leave you indifferent and we see just that in the story of “The Awakening” as Edna reaches her final stages of reality and Robert brings her to that just by loving her and allowing her to be herself.

The Awakening, The Story of an Hour and Desiree’s Baby

The Awakening: The novel was titled “The Awakening,” because the main character Edna Pontellier goes through a series of liberations that cause her to “awaken” or become aware of her The Story of an Hour: The title refers to the actual duration of the story. All the events that take place in the story can happen in the time frame of an hour. Desiree’s Baby: The title refers to one of the main characters, Armand Aubigny, not claiming his child after finding out that the child as of different race; therefore giving all ownership of the baby to the mother, Desiree.

Author & Purpose

Kate Chopin was born Katherine O’Flaherty on February 8, 1850, in St. Louis, Missouri to Thomas and Eliza O’Flaherty. Kate was one of five children and the only one to live past the age of twenty two. Her father was killed in a railroad accident when she was five years old. Kate didn’t grow up with many male role models or around many married couples; she was raised by her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, vigorous widows that stressed learning, curiosity, and financial independence.

Kate’s great-great-grandmother was the first woman to legally separate from her husband and continue on with a successful fulfilling life in the city of St. Louis.

Kate was formally educated at the Academy of Sacred Heart, catholic school in St. Louis. Two years after graduating Kate married Oscar Chopin, the son of a wealthy cotton planter from Louisiana. Kate gave birth to five boys and one girl all before the age of twenty-eight. When Oscar died in 1882 Kate took over her late husband’s plantation and store for over a year before selling it and moving back in with her mother. Kate began to write to support herself and her kids.

Her novel “The Awakening” was very controversial, and in the end it denied her admission into the St. Louis Fine Art Club. Chopin was very hurt by the reaction to the book, so for the remainder five years of her life she only wrote short stories. Kate Chopin died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of fifty-three.

The purpose of her novels and short stories were to entertain and call attention to the male dominance and woman submission during this timeframe, while expressing her beliefs on the strength of women.

Setting

The Awakening: The beginning of the novel is set during the late 1800’s at a summer vacation resort in Grand Isle filled with New Orleans wealthy. The rest of the novel is set in New Orleans. Being set in the 1800’s is significant because they story wouldn’t make since if it was set in a time where divorce was possible, or independence was supported. The Story of an Hour: The short story is takes place inside the home of Louise Mallard. This is significant to the story because the setting reflects Ms. Mallard being trapped and/or caged in her life. Desiree’s Baby: The short is set in Louisiana before the civil war.

Most Memorable Characters & Motivations

Edna Pontellier: Edna is a respectable wife and mother and the protagonist of the novel. Her motivation was to break free of the confinement’s society while trying to find her identity. Louise Mallard: Louise is the fragile wife of the supposedly deceased Brently Mallard. Her husband is “dead.” Armand Aubigny: Armand is the father of the baby and Desiree’s husband. At the time of the novel society was still prejudice against blacks, so his motivation in the story is to protect his pride and his family’s name by casting away his wife and son because they are not fully white.

Plot Summary

The Story of an Hour

In the exposition Kate Chopin tells us that Louise Mallard has a heart condition. This is why Josephine, her sister, has to gently tell her that her husband has died. The deceased Mr. Mallards friend, Richard, is there in home with them. He originally found out the news while being in the newspaper office when report of the train accident came through.

In the rising action Louise cries passionately in the arms of her sister before deciding to go to her room to be alone. In her room she sits in her armchair feeling depleted facing the window noticing everything and everyone that passes. She sits there quiet except for when she occasionally cries like a child. As she sits there she feels some sort of unknown intelligence coming to her.

The climax consists of Louise feeling a sense of freedom and liking it. She feels more liberated and excited for her freedom than she feels sad about her husband’s death. As her sister pleads at her door telling her to let her in, Louise is fantasizes about her possible new life.

In the falling action the liberated Louise finally joins her sister outside of her room and they descend down the stairs together with Richard waiting at the bottom. Suddenly, Mr. Mallard walks through the door travel-stained and unknowing of any accident. Richard and Josephine try to protect Mrs. Mallard from the sight of her husband but fail.

The resolution of the story consists of the medical examiner saying that she died of heart failure due to being overjoyed.

Desiree’s Baby

In the Exposition Madame Valmonde drives over to see Desiree and her baby for the first time in a month, she remembers when Desiree herself was a baby. Her husband had found Desiree sleeping next to a pillar as he rode through the gateway of the Valmonde home in southern Louisiana eighteen years before. No one knew where she came from or who put her there, but it was believed that a group of Texans purposely left her there. The Valmonde’s adopted her and loved her as if she were their flesh. Armand Aubigny had known her since he was eight, when his father brought him to America from Paris after his mother died. When Desiree was fully grown Armand one day saw her and instantly fell in love, and they were married despite her unknown background. When Madame arrives she is surprised at how much the child has grown in four weeks, and Desiree tells her how much Armand has changed. She says that Armand is so proud to be a father that he stopped frowning as much and hasn’t punished the slaves once since the baby was born.

His happiness makes Desiree feel ecstatic. The rising action consists of Desiree feeling uneasiness and people who see the baby getting a sense that something is unusual about it. Armand starts to avoid Desiree and the baby while in the home and he even starts to stray away for long periods without giving an excuse to Desiree. Desiree dared not to ask for an explanation. The climax consists of Desiree sitting on her bed one hot afternoon, and noticing that her sleeping child and the quadroon boy fanning him are the same color. She dismisses the boy and asks Armand who arrives a short while later what it means. He tells her that it means that she and the baby are not white.

In the falling action Desiree writes a letter to Madame telling her of what’s going on and asking her to tell them than it’s untrue. Madame replies to the letter, but neither confirms nor denies Desiree being white. She simply tells her to return home with her baby. Desiree shows the letter to the scornful Armand and asks him whether he wants her to go and he insists on her going. Desiree immediately takes her baby from the nurse and proceeds to walk into the fields, without changing her clothes, to never be seen again. In the resolution Armand is burning all of Desiree’s and the baby’s belongings including a drawer full of letters she sent him during before they were married. In the same drawer he finds a letter from his mother to his father revealing that Armand is black.

The Awakening

The novel is set with Leonce Pontellier, a businessman, and Edna Pontellier, a respected wife and mother, vacationing in Grand Isle, a summer vacation resort popular to the wealthy of New Orleans. Leonce is busy handling everything business-related, leaving Edna to spend time with the liberal Creole people. Especially Adele Ratignolle, the perfect Victorian mother and wife. The more time she spends with these people the more she starts to learn about freedom of expression and coming aware of her non-existent feelings for her husband, starting her “awakening”. During this time Edna innocently starts to get to know Robert Lebrun. During the rising action Edna falls in love with Robert Lebrun and learns how to swim which sparks her awareness of her sexuality and her independence, including hearing Mademoiselle Reisz. Leonce remains to be dominating and is oblivious to the fact that Edna is in love with someone else. Robert feeling that he and Edna’s relationship is getting out of control he retreats to Mexico. In New Orleans Edna spends her time painting instead of housekeeping, and stops making the usual social calls on Tuesdays. Leonce believing that his wife is
becoming mentally ill insists help from Doctor Mandelet.

Mandelet tells Leonce to let her do as she pleases assuming that this phase would pass, but not mentioning it to Leonce, he suspects that she is having an affair. In the climax Mademoiselle Reisz letting Edna read the letters from Robert and knowing of Edna’s plans to move out, tells her basically that if she is going to be independent that she needs to be ready for the consequences that come with them. Edna moves out of her extravagant home with Leonce and moves into a house around the block nicknamed the “pigeon-hole.” Edna has an affair with the town seducer Alcee Arobin, who finally satisfies her sexually. Afterwards she doesn’t feel bad that she just committed adultery, but is uneasy about having sex with someone other than her love Robert. In the falling action Robert professes his love to Edna, unknowing that she has read his letters.

Robert mentions marriage, only to be rejected by Edna. She tells him that she isn’t property to be transferred from one man to another. However, they’re still in love with each other. Edna asks Robert to wait while she runs off to help deliver her friend’s baby, but when she returns, Robert is gone. In the resolution Edna recedes to Grand Isle claiming that she needs to rest. When she arrives in Grand Isle she makes plans to have dinner with Adele and her husband Victor, and proceeds to go skinny dipping. While in the water she thinks of all her triumphs and tribulations as well as her freedom. She swims far out into the ocean and drowns. The book ends with a question of whether or not she committed suicide.

Themes

The Awakening: In “The Awakening” as well as in “The Story of an Hour” marriage is a barrier to happiness and individual fulfillment with the female main characters. All Edna Pontellier in “The Awakening” wanted was to have freedom and independence just like her husband had. The Story of an Hour: Time is one of the many themes in this short story. I think Kate Chopin wanted to show us that even an hour can change our lives. Louise Mallard found out that her husband died and cried about it, she felt liberated that she finally had freedom from her marriage, and then she found out that her husband was alive and then she died. All of this happened in the short timeframe of an hour. Desiree’s baby: Real love is colorblind is one of the underlying themes within this passage. Armand no longer loved Desiree because he felt that her race was an injury to his name. While on the other hand, Desiree tells her mother of what’s been going, and her mother still accepts her and tells her to return home with her baby. Real love is colorblind.

Symbols

The Awakening: The birds in the story represent the entrapment of Edna as well as the entrapment of all Victorian women. The parrot and the mockingbird at the beginning of the story represent Edna and Mademoiselle Reisz. The caged parrot shrieks at Mr. Mallard which gives a voice to Edna’s unspoken feelings, and shows her imprisonment. The narrator tells that the mocking bird is the only one who can understand the parrots Spanish. This would have to be Mademoiselle Reisz because she is the only one capable of understanding Edna. The Story of an Hour: The open window represents all things that are possible now that her husband is dead. Everything that she sees the in distance through the window hints that her new life will be bright and clear. When she turns away from the window she loses her freedom and those possibilities. Desiree’s Baby: The October sunset mentioned in line 127 represents the ending of Desiree’s and Armand’s marriage.

Meaningful Quotes

The Awakening: page 184 paragraph 3- “The years that are gone seem like dreams—if one might go on sleeping and dreaming—but to wake up and find—oh! well! Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” The quotation is means that it is better to live life for you, rather than following someone else’s expectations and standards. The Story of an Hour: paragraph 4- There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination The quote means that past ties and expectations, stripped of “a kind intention or a cruel intention” are revealed as shackles that have been tying her down.

Even the love can keep someone feeling imprisoned. Desiree’s Baby: paragraph 37 -Because of the injury she had caused him, he no longer loves her. Now it is her time to suffer, he thinks, and well she should The “injury” Armand is referring to, is Desiree supposedly being black and it defacing his family name. He no longer loves her because of her race and thinks that she should be punished for “lying” to him. It is meaningful because it shows just how much racism was apparent back in the 1800’s, to the point where you would give up your whole family because being black was looked down upon.

Rhetorical Analysis

All three of the stories were written in third person omniscient point of view which gave them a sense of gravity. Not being written in first person, allowed the stories to seem serious and somber. Uses of words such as immense and empathic in “The Awakening” make the style of writing formal and exact. Chopin gives lots of details in order to emphasize an event or an object’s importance, and she quickly summarizes the insignificant details so we don’t waste time thinking about it. “Desiree’s baby” is informal and ironic. All of the sentences are filled with numerous details to emphasize and provide imagery. The tone of “The Story of an Hour” is subtle yet cruel, because Ms. Mallard was believed to be vulnerable and sad and in reality she was ecstatic that her husband died. The style was ironic and withholding because the narrator and the reader know the feelings Ms. Mallard has about her husband’s death. She couldn’t have died from joy so the real cause of death is unknown.

All of the stories portrayed a theme of male dominance and female submission. In “the Awakening” Leonce tried to dominated Edna in the beginning, and her friend Adele was the perfect example of a submissive wife. In “The Story of an Hour” from what we are told it seemed as if Brently Mallard was a dominating husband and Louise Mallard was a submissive wife. All she talked about in the story was freedom. In “Desiree’s Baby” Armand was a dominating husband and Desiree was the submissive wife. Kate Chopin’s message is that women deserve independence and freedom and are the property of no one.

Change one Detail

The Awakening: I would change the fact that Mademoiselle Reisz let Edna read the letters. I would like to see if she would still have the same emotions for Robert if she didn’t know for a fact that he loved her. Would she fall in love with Alcee? The Story of an Hour: I would change the fact that Josephine and Richard let her go to her room alone. I wonder if they were sitting in the room with her would that change her liberation in any way. Desiree’s Baby: I would change the fact that Armand let Desiree and the baby go. I wonder what would have happened if he said he wanted the baby to stay but Desiree had to go.

Reader Response

My opinion is that all three books were entertaining and had a great message to them. Kate Chopin is a great writer whose stories capture the essence of a marriage in the 1800’s beautifully. Her use of details let you visualize every event in her writing. There isn’t anything that I don’t like about her stories except for endings that kept you wondering.

Feminist Lens: A Perspective – The Awakening

During the late nineteenth century, a woman’s place in society was confined to the reverence of her children and constant submission to her husband. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin is a novel about Edna Pontellier whose life was embraced through the frustrations and triumphs as she attempts to cope with the strict cultural demands in which she was confined. This essay focuses specifically on the feminist critical perspective, however, The Awakening can be perceived to also observe the historical or psychoanalytical critical perspectives as well.

First, the story can be interpreted using the psychoanalytical perspective by the using the events and emotions experienced by the characters within.

According to South University Online (2010) defines both perspectives as follows: “the psychoanalytical perspective aims to reveal the influence of the unconscious in the text’s plot, setting, conflict, symbols, point of view, language, and character development” (p.2). Whereas, the “historical perspective, look at the political, social, racial, cultural, and economic structures in place as well as the traditions and counter traditions of the literature.

” (p. 4) Consequently, Edna battles the pressures of 1899 that commanded her to be a submissive and devoted housewife, while contravening the stereotype of a “mother-woman”. The Awakening supports, as well as, inspires feminism by as a way for women to challenge their gender role, embrace symbolisms implied in life, and establish their individual identity.

Feminist theory argues that “to say gender is socially-constructed means that ideas about women’s and men’s roles, behaviors, and abilities come from human choices rather than from actual physical differences” (South University Online, 2010, para. 5). Chopin gave Edna’s role as a feminist in many ways by her indulging her more selfish needs. During a conversation with Madame Ratignolle; “she would never sacrifice herself for her children, or for anyone” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 16, para. 10). Subsequently, this embodies the theory that if Edna were to give up her soul, the very base of her womanhood and what she stands for in life, then her world and existence would be over. Therefore, she would end up drifting away into the void of commonality.

Edna believes in herself and senses her inner individuality by moving forward to achieving her sexuality and opinions. She does so by strongly imposing the beliefs of feminism to intimately discover one’s mind and body, the ultimate freedom. Expanding on the many different definitions of feminism, there are “Clues showing beliefs about gender are in every aspect of the text, and you can choose which thread you care to examine.” (South University Online, 2010, para. 2). The focus remains on what Edna is not: “…Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 4, para. 4). This is Chopin’s way of defining Edna of all the things she is not, thus showing Edna’s rebellious power against what was considered “normal” for women. For example, the relationship between Edna and Leonce Pontellier demanded a conflict due to Edna challenging the ideas as her role to be restricted to a wife and mother.

Subsequently, Chopin narrates the feelings and emotions of Edna by the use of symbolism by the mention of birds to suggest that Edna has finally found her Awakening. From the start of the novel to the very end, the birds play a very dominant part in the imagery of Edna’s Awakening. The parrot yells: “Allez-vous en! Allez-vous en! Sapritsi!” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 1, para. 2), translated in Edna’s language, “Get out! Get out!” is a clear clarification of Edna’s way to communicate to her husband Leonce. Thus, the parrot is representing Edna by symbolizing being confined in the cage of motherly and wifely duties craving to be released, but held back by the bars of society. The urge to break free from her husband’s display that Edna is nothing but labeled as property, his possession. Clarified by Chopin, “He looked at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 1, para. 10). Chopin also uses the bird to symbolize how a caged bird eventually finds itself seeing no end in sight, thus confirming the existing bars and losing all sense of its ability to spread its wings. Mademoiselle Reisz tells Edna, “The bird that would soar above the level of plain tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.

It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 27, para. 12). This advice not to be taken lightly, but to say that if Edna does not waver in her determination to burst out of her deteriorating cage, she will never gain the strength to defy the stereotypes of submissive women. Therefore, the story providing what the future will hold for Edna and how it may set her free. Furthermore, Chopin cleverly introduces Alcée Arobin to symbolize a kind of bird. His name means “A – robin”. Suggesting he, like a robin, is a bird with no regard to social restrictions that has the freedom to fly from nest to nest at will. Although he is not in search for love, but rather on a quest to obtain his ultimate Awakening life has to offer. Alcée speaks to Edna in terms “that astonished her at first and brought crimson to her face” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 26, para. 2).

Intrigued, Edna immediately appreciates and even envies his lifestyle – free as a bird, no cages holding him back, doing whatever pleases him. Her envious behavior causes her to crave the way of Alcée by gliding through the world with a sort of sophistication, liberation, and inner peace to be free. Edna defines her earliest kiss with Alcée as “the first kiss to which her nature had really responded. It was a flaming torch that kindled desire “(Chopin, 2005, Chapter 27, para. 20). No doubt, this evanescent affair revolutionized Edna’s inner inhabitations to let go, to be free with her sexuality by showing complete independence and defying society. Finally, the symbolic representation of the bird becomes the ultimate conclusion to Edna’s passage to obtain her independent identity. Chopin explains that Edna is like the “bird with a broken wing” that she observes, “beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the war” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 39, para. 23). This describes the ultimate struggle in Edna’s constant search to find her inner identity of independence however, ended in suicide.

Her suicide portrays the unfortunate deterioration of this otherwise feminist piece of literature by allowing Edna’s action to somewhat discredit the classification of feminism. Edna maintained many solid qualities needed to be successful in her feminist way of thinking and might have lived a longer life if she only obtained one simple quality required. Edna’s beliefs were that if she was not able to obtain her wants immediately then all her maneuvers within her life were considered worthless and insignificant. This explained after Robert leaves for Mexico. Edna feels as if his “going had some way taken the brightness, the color, the meaning out of everything” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 16, para. 2) In other words, Edna allowed Robert as her connection to her vulnerability while keeping her feminist stance towards establishing her inner identity. “She felt no interest in anything about herself” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 18, para. 5) because with never understanding this concept, she cannot grasp her femininity entirely. After Robert departs from her side, Edna finds “there was no one thing in the world she desired” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 39, para. 22).

Edna, descending herself into believing that life is a steady stream of disappointing setbacks that will never change, thus ultimately thinking that there is nothing further she could do to bring about any further change within her life. Throughout, The Awakening, Edna grows gradually depressed and submissive behavior toward life due to her “inability” to express her belief that she will remain unhappy forever unless she gets exactly what she wants. Even though Edna’s efforts to liberate herself from an oppressive society remain respectable, her suicide is an appalling waste of her struggles, thus defying the very personification of feminism.

In conclusion, The Awakening is known as the story of a woman who is determined to be awakened in every sense of the word, while refusing to accept the gender role that society used to maintain control and power over women. Chopin’s use of symbolism not only inspires readers in ways never imagined possible, but showed the harsh reality of what could happen if the value of self-worth is never obtained or recognized. Therefore, with Edna only in her death is Leonce and society completely powerless to her promiscuous ways.

Feminism giving the main focus of Edna’s life by her achievement of true empowerment, which was a position not often qualified by woman during the nineteenth century. Even in the 21st century where social restrictions are nearly a thing of the past, just because we are considered “a free people” does not mean man or woman will conquer the struggles placed in front of them. With limited social restrictions set in place, it does on guarantee a person the will to find their identity, inner peace, and the strength to fight for what they believe in. However, Edna with all the restrictions and constraints placed in front of her, she defied the voice of reason and remained alive even after death. Chopin narrates: “The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring and murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in the abysses of solitude” (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 39, para. 23).

References
Chopin, K. (2005). The awakening [VitalSource digital version]. Raleigh, NC: Hayes Barton Press South University Online. (2010). ENG1002: Composition/literature: Week 4: Historical ways of reading. Retrieved from myeclassonline.com.

The Rebellion by Edna in The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Contents

  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Analysis of the Rebellious nature of Edna
    • 2.1 Work Cited

Introduction

A read through the book by Kate Chopin, The Awakening, leaves one with many questions, especially when they are through to the 7th chapter. The story of Edna Pontellier is the one which is problematic, as one follows the character from the beginning of the story to the end. The various transformation of the character Edna is what is sure to leave many questions in the head of a reader.

One might be sure to ask as well as ponder whether this is another feminist novel or whether Edna is mad, or it is, in fact, the author, Chopin who is mad. However, one thing that is sure to stand out in the novel is the rebellious nature of Edna. However, the question of whether her rebellion can be termed to be realistic is one of the factors that many critics of the novel try to argue. In this paper, the uprising of Edna will be discussed as well as the causes for the rebellious nature.

Analysis of the Rebellious nature of Edna

When a reader first comes across with Edna, she appears to be a muted woman, one who is entirely unable to articulate herself and very much unable to tell a story from her point of view (Urgo 23). However, as one progresses through the novel, Edna gets more courageous and even learns to say no, she slowly turns into a woman who is capable of rebelling as her character begins to take into shape. From the novel, it can be said that awakens Edna as well as her sensuality, is mainly the art of speaking out as well as her being able to make her desires, as well as her emotions, be understood in a narrative form. The awakening is mainly a story about Edna being unable to speak and as such, not being able to make her story being heard. The central tragedy to Edna in The Awakening is that comes to later find out that the story which she is telling is mainly unacceptable in her culture, such demands that if she wants to live in their current society, she will have to silence herself, and ignore the others. However, Edna comes to reject this truth. Such is what brings out her rebellious quality at first. The readers are introduced to the fact that Edna is now willing to extinguish her own life than editing her form of the story. However, such raises a very crucial component in her rebellious nature; she even comes to the point of accepting and reaching for a compromise with death rather than being silent, which seems a very suitable bargain when compared to death.

It should be noted that from the start of the novel, Edna is always going through a rough patch when trying to express her emotions as well as experiences in the form of a narrative. A perfect example is when Edna and Robert try to come up with a relation to the ?adventure’by Leonce, which they have had out in the water, but they fail. Edna says,It didn’t seem half so amusing when told (Chopin 173). Furthermore, one of the most discouraging factors that had been attributed to be causing the turbulence in the Pontellier marriage is the fact that, in the eyes of Leonce, Edna was failing to talk as well as converse with him (Chopin 177). However, the catch is that Edna can’t appreciate such type of conversation because the first time the readers are introduced to her, we find her to be mute. All these time, Edna can be said to be quiet, especially for the first six chapters of the novel.

Edna’s attempt to express herself always runs her into problems; all these can be seen at the first effort to make her thoughts be heard. All this was seen when Edna decided to take anatural aptitude test to undertake to do a painting for Madame Ratignolle. However, when the picture was done, Ratignolle was greatly disappointed as the woman in the picture bore no similarities to her at all. However, Edna interrupts this statement. She says thatIt was a fair enough piece f work, and is satisfying in many ways (Chopin 187). As demonstrated, this indeed becomes the first instance of Edna, having a chance to have her interpretation and thoughts be heard. She refuses to get what she sees as being good, being termed as unrealistic by the other. Such shows that whatever Edna sees in her own eyes, it is not the same that is recognized by her compatriots, such explains one of the causes of her rebellious nature. She is mainly rebellious because she does not conform to the standards as well as patterns of her compatriots. However, Edna destroys the picture despite some consolation from Robert.

No sooner had she made the unsettling picture of the Madame Ratignolle than Edna is hit by the many series of her forms of awakenings. With this, the realization the relations that surround her are progressively made more prominent (Chopin 191). The incidence of the painting with Madame Ratignolle teaches her a lot. She learns that even though her visions and way of seeing things are different from the others, it is paramount that she learns to express them. And this serves the second reason for her rebellion, to make herself understood as well as bring out her voice. However, as Chopin explains, the beginnings brought about by such types of awakening are vague, and as a result, Edna still had a very long way in a bid to make her voice be heard.

However, it is chapter 7 that reveals much about the history that Edna has concerning her rebellious nature. The section explains the kind in which she would run out of the fields in the sole bid to escape the prayer services that she saw as being gloomy. The chapter also shows why she ended up marrying Leonce as her family had the violent opposition to her marrying a Catholic man. It is evident that she led a dual life all her life as her outward appearance mainly seemed to conform to what the society expects of her while the internal part of her always appear to be questioning the actions she undertakes.

Before the life that Edna leads while in marriage, she had experienced various sexual, obsessions as we passionate encounters with some men that he could not have lasting relationships with them. She was always fixated on a writer who was dead as well as having the constant amount of persistence of the infatuation to these other men. Such made it seem like it was genuine love. However, such kind of perception, especially to a dead man, was in a way a perfect portrayal of the weakness that Edna suffered the pain as well of having an unfulfilled love. All these were some of the reasons that aggravated her need to express herself to the world.

The story that needs to be told by Edna, as seen, is the story of the awakening that is seen in her body. Such is described by the author asthe animalism that has forever stirred impatiently within her (Chopin 293). Her body has been the one that has suffered more from the silence as it had never found a perfect place to express her desires openly. It is this, however, that he must rebel against, in a bid to set her body and soul free. She must be able to tell her story and be able to explain or narrate her desires to the people, who might sometimes take advantages of her silent and muted nature (McConnell 44). The incident that happens at the Grand Isle, very early in the novel, represents a foreshadowing of the move that will be taken by Edna. That when moving from the appreciation of the passive consumption and appreciation of the arts, towards the side in which it demands active participation, towards the authority as well as the expression of oneself. Such typically represents a move from the viewpoint that the art is taken as being ornamental or just being social to the people of the society.

Work Cited

Urgo, Joseph R.A Prologue to Rebellion: The Awakening’and the Habit of Self-Expression. The Southern Literary Journal, vol. 20, no. 1, 1987, pp. 22“32. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20077844.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017. Print.

McConnell, Mikaela. “”A Lost Sense of Self by Ignoring Other in The Awakening By Kate Chopin.”” The Explicator 72.1 (2014): 41-44. Web.

Softening Of The Stereotypes

Kate Chopin, an American author, wrote during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when the movement for women’s liberation was taking place (Chopin XVII). When the movement began, two major stereotypes were created. The New Woman depicts women who are intelligent and innocent, yet empowered.

The femme fatale depicts a woman who is desired by many men but only focuses on her own desires (Chopin XIII). To combat stereotypes and expectations for women at the time, Chopin wrote The Awakening in the mindset of Edna Pontellier, who disregards what society expects of her. Although Mrs. Pontellier is married to Lonce Pontellier, she is in love with two other men, Robert Lebrun, and Alce Arobin. By representing expectations of society through Mr. Pontellier, representing different stereotypes of women through Lebrun and Arobin, and showing Mrs. Pontellier’s unconformity, Chopin uses The Awakening to contradict society and literature of her time (Chopin XIII).

Mr. Pontellier is a businessman who supports many of the expectations for women during the 1800s. For example, he expects Mrs. Pontellier to look after their children, Raoul and Etienne, and he often scolds her when he feels she is not doing her job well enough. He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children. If it was not a mother’s place to look after children, whose on Earth was it? (Chopin 8). This quote shows that Mr. Pontellier expected his wife to care for their children since he felt he did not have time. This quote also shows that Mr. Pontellier demands respect from Mrs. Pontellier. He expects her to listen to his commands, and he treats her as a piece of property, which is representative of many marriages at the time (Married Women’s Property Laws: Law Library of Congress). He shows this when he says, ?You are burnt beyond recognition'[…] looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property (Chopin 3). Through these actions and expectations, Chopin uses Mr. Pontellier to represent marriages and expectations in her time.

Chopin not only represents society’s expectations of women through Mr. Pontellier’s actions; she also represents the stereotypes of the femme fatale and the New Woman. To Mrs. Pontellier’s first lover, Lebrun, she is the New Woman. Lebrun represents the portion of society that sees women as empowered, intelligent, and innocent. This can be seen when Lebrun interacts with Mrs. Pontellier, such as when he and Mrs. Pontellier are talking about what they might do at their vacation island, the Grand Isle. He says, We’ll go wherever you like (Chopin 52). In sharp contrast to Mr. Pontellier, when Lebrun speaks with Mrs. Pontellier, he allows her more freedom such as choosing where to go. These details show that he not only loves her but he respects her in a way most men did not respect women at the time. By characterizing Lebrun in this way, Chopin represents the sector of her society that respects women and supports the revolution.

However, to Mrs. Pontellier’s second lover, Arobin, Mrs. Pontellier is a femme fatale. She is desired by several men, her husband, Lebrun, and Arobin, yet she only follows her own desires to love Lebrun. At times, Mrs. Pontellier even openly rejected Arobin’s affectionate gestures. One evening after getting home from the races with Arobin, he kisses her hand, and she quickly stands up and backs away. As Arobin leaves she feels, Somewhat like a woman who in a moment of passion is betrayed into an act of infidelity, (Chopin 119). She also thinks to herself, What would he think? (Chopin 119).

However, she is not thinking of what Mr. Pontellier would think. Instead, she is wondering what Lebrun would think, which shows that her actions are driven by her desires of Lebrun (Chopin 119). By using the femme fatale personification in combination with the mindset of Mrs. Pontellier, the reader understands her actions. It shows that Mrs. Pontellier is seeking to be able to express herself and be free from her husband. This makes her socially unaccepted acts more understandable, and they fight the stereotypes of the time period. Another way Chopin combats the nineteenth-century societal stereotypes is through Mrs. Pontellier’s actions. Since the novel is written from her perspective, the reader finds it easier to sympathize with Mrs. Pontellier’s feelings of oppression from the expectations Mr. Pontellier has for her. The expectation that women are the sole caretakers of the children is combatted because, Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman, (Chopin 11). She did love her children, but, in an uneven impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart, she would sometimes forget them (Chopin 28). Had Mr. Pontellier accepted that his wife was not a very matronly person and then helped her with the caretaking of their children, their relationship may have been more successful. With a successful and loving relationship, Mrs. Pontellier would have felt less of a need to seek out love in other places, such as from her other lovers, Arobin and Lebrun. By showing the Pontellier’s relationship through Mrs. Pontellier’s mind, the reader is able to understand how oppressive it is, and how society and Mr. Pontellier’s actions affect Mrs. Pontellier.

The effects of the oppression Mrs. Pontellier has suffered are seen at the end of the novel when Mrs. Pontellier drowns herself off the shore of the Grand Isle. She does this because she cannot bear to live with her husband who will only accept her if she is what he wants her to be. However, she also knows that she cannot simply leave for another man because of her children. This is shown when she says to herself, To-day it is Arobin, to-morrow it will be someone else. It makes no difference to me, it doesn’t matter about Lonce Pontellier, but Raoul and Etienne! (Chopin 176). This quote shows her eternal search for love and acceptance by the way she says that in the future she might acquire yet another man to love. It also shows that she does not care for her husband. In fact, she wants to leave him, but she knows she cannot leave her children with the disgrace society will push upon them. After this internal contemplation, she drowns by the Grand Isle because it was too much to bear that in no circumstances she and society would be appeased. This act, along with her reasons for it, shows what the effects of society can be. Since the 1800s, women have gained more rights, and they are no longer viewed as property (Detailed Timeline).

It is also common to see women in the workforce today. In a study done by the Center for American Progress, it was found that 42% of mothers are the primary workers of the household (Godfrey). Since mothers are beginning to do more work, it is more common to see fathers taking care of the children (Godfrey). Today women not treated as property, but rather they are treated as valuable members of society.

Today’s society also pushes for more equal treatment of women. While society still has some stereotypes of women, those who believe in equal rights are actively working to combat them. Organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), fight against stereotypes about women. These organizations focus on helping women attain equality by advocating equal rights in education and employment. They also speak out against gender-based domestic violence, and physical and mental abuse from husbands. (ACLU). These organizations fight against stereotypes and advocate women’s worth. Overall, in The Awakening, Chopin uses different characters to express different aspects of the nineteenth-century society. Through the actions of those characters, Chopin combats the stereotypes and expectations of women. Lebrun and Arobin each represent stereotypes of what people thought of women at the time, and Mr. Pontellier shows the expectations placed on women. Mrs. Pontellier’s rebellious nature, and her final act of drowning by the Grand Isle, ties the story together and shows what the effects of an oppressive society can be.

Today, society is much different and women have many more opportunities, which can be seen through the contrast of today’s society compared to the one Chopin writes about. Although society is still not perfect, many people support equality for women, and they are actively combatting stereotypes and expectations.

Works Cited

  1. ACLU. Women’s Rights. American Civil Liberties Union, 2018, www.aclu.org/issues/womens-rights.
  2. Chopin, Kate, and Alyssa Harad. The Awakening. Awakening and Selected Stories of Kate Chopin, edited by Cynthia Brantley Johnson, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2004, pp. VII-178.
  3. Detailed Timeline. National Womens History Project, www.nwhp.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/detailed-timeline/.
  4. Godfrey, Neale. The Stay-At-Home Dad Syndrome. Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 31 July 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/nealegodfrey/2017/07/31/the-stay-at-home-dad-syndrome/#322eddd61e2.
  5. Married Women’s Property Laws: Law Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875, Charles Magnus, memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awlaw3/property_law.html.

About Happiness in Literature

In the novel, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin and the play, A Doll’s House, by Henrik Isben, both undress the situation revolving around a person’s belief and what society is set to believe. In, The Awakening, a female is lead to commit an enormous sin, adultery. Edna, from the novel, is held to responsibilities and titles that she knows are not fitted for her. So, Edna chooses to follow her spirit which make her feel free and alive, but in the end do lead to an unfortunate event. In, A Doll’s House, a women struggles against social conformity causing a downfall in her marriage. Torvolt, from the play, is torn between the two ideas of one’s values and society’s values due to being blinded by his desire to be accepted. He knows that with following his beliefs there’s a chance of happiness, but also exclusion from society he tries so hard to please. As a result he lets fear take over and tells him to stick with the patriarchal beliefs to be safe. Nora, from the play, does what she pleases as long as Torvolt, her husband, does not know about her matriarchal actions. If she is caught she risks her marriage and children which she holds dear. The three characters test the topic by realizing the patriarchal society’s wrongs and imagine themself being matriarchal which is supporting what they value. Chopin and Ibsen demonstrate that one must defy social norms to protect one’s personal beliefs in order to achieve self discovery. This is presented by Edna, Torvolt, and Nora’s daily actions in their life. Edna’s rebellion against the patriarchal world allows her to preserve her views and realize one’s purpose in life. Edna is given responsibility, but denies it any attention because she values herself and sees no gain in her duties. One of Edna’s duties since she is a parent is her children, to nurture and love them. ?I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but i wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself it me'(Chopin 47). Edna is not necessarily saying she would die for them as a way of giving up her life but rather money, clothes, and her status. When Edna says she would not give herself up, its an effort to say she will not give up her values, morals, beliefs, or anything that makes up her mental state. To prove that her views truly go against what society says are her actions and how they are perceived by other individuals. ?but she doesn’t act well. She’s odd, she’s not like herself. I can’t make her out, and I thought perhaps you’d help me'(65). Edna is finally back in the city and Robert, her dear companion, is now gone for Mexico. People believe that Edna is acting this way as a result of Robert being gone, but in reality this how she truly feels she should act. She has been acting this way because she knows this is not something she wants to be doing. In the end the world she lives in does not accept her which she does not tolerate and swallow. She thought of L?©once and the children. They were apart of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul. How Mademoiselle Reisz would have laughed, perhaps sneered, if she knew! (116). Edna does not let herself be devoured by the society that does not support her and instead chooses to be taken away by the heavens in hope to feel accepted. By disobeying and not living up to the expectations she is given she exemplifies not fitting into the world’s status quo. Torvolt ignores his values to secure his reputation in the social structure which leads to his self misery. Torvolt, seeming like a down to earth man, but is actual controlling in order to feel content in his life affairs, yet in the long run is still not satisfied. He is always worried about being in debt or owing others and living up to an expectation of a successful man and having an ideal family. In the end Torvolt and Nora have a serious discussion and debate over being one’s true self, which Torvolt believes is not necessary. NORA. I have other duties just as sacred. HEL. That you have not. What duties could those be? NORA. Duties to myself. HEL. Before all else you are a wife and a mother(Ibsen 68). He assumes that in order to feel free from the society one must follow its norms. Torvolt expresses that one’s values should be based off of their role, but little does he know that accepting and believing in their beliefs will make let the individual feel whole. Torvolt also stresses the idea of morals, of right and wrong. HEL. …I suppose you have some moral sense?…You talk like a child. You don’t understand the condition of the world in which you live. NORA. No, I don’t. But now I am going to try. I am going to see if I can make out who is right, the world or I(69) Torvolt himself needs to understand the environment around him in order to justify his beliefs and tell if they are actually his. Torvolt unable to defend his belief will help him realize that they were never his to believe, and will learn what he believes is right. Torvolt is in a world under the patriarchal impression that prevents him from understanding sacrifice. I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora???bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves(70). Torvolt needs to sacrifice something dear to grasp the feeling it feels like to have gratitude and self satisfaction. Sacrificing someone or something dear helps you see little details that will help an individual cope with their lost. Torvolt’s ability to notice one’s values will help maneuver him to accomplish his own. The way Nora handles the social norms help guide her to discover her own priorities. Nora defies the rules given to her by taking advantage of the any type power she knows she has. Nora is capable to survive the walls and boundaries that her husband, Torvolt, has set by creating her own decisions. [Puts the bag of macarons into her pocket and wipes her mouth] (2). Nora’s ownership of the macaroons gives her a taste of freedom and displays that she has thoughts of breaking free from the obligation that humanity upholds her to. Nora tends to depend on herself to keep the other individuals around her. MRS. L. And did your husband never get to know from your father that the money had not come from him(12). Nora knows that society and especially Torvolt would not be pleased with her actions so she keeps secrets and burdens to herself. To follow the norm Nora tries to stall, sacrifice, and think on her feet while playing doll house with her husband. NORA [quickly]. He mustn’t get the letter. Tear it up. I will find some means of getting money(44). Nora tries to stall Mr. Krog from exposing her wrong deed to her husband by saying she will find the money, and that is also a way she thinks on her feet since she is so flustered. Nora’s courageous behavior lead her to take a step in life towards acknowledging her power and influence on the world. The novel and play prove that one shall stand up to the patriarchal ideals to shield the individual’s value and views to accomplish one’s character. Edna admits with actions that she does not care for the norms and will not follow them. Torvolt during his conversations with Nora reveals what he needs to be open-minded and sacrifice to feel self fulfillment. Nora unrolls how she deals with the norm, which she cannot handle, with the help of Kristine. For their actions of understanding themself, others and society each character was able to grow spiritually as a person. As a society we are restricted to fully express our emotions and thought, and have to give confidence to our self to share our ideas that will be rejected by some form of group in the world. Everyone in the world struggles with finding their purpose in life, what they believe in, what could be right and wrong, and telling if what they think is okay think because instead of being embraced for the knowledge they carry, they are shunned.

Comparison Of Chopin And Hurston’s Novels

In choosing to compare and contrast the works The Awakening by Kate Chopin and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, both female characters struggle to find what they desire in life throughout both novels, but the experiences of racism are quite different for these two characters. Kate Chopin published The Awakening during Victorian Era of the nineteenth century in America, when gender roles followed a strict set of guidelines. Although when Zora Neale Hurston produced Their Eyes Were Watching God the roles expected by men and women were not as strict, women were expected to keep their place in the home and obey their husbands.

The issues of gender and race were especially apparent in the Southern region of the United States, where both of these stories take place.

The main characters in both novels challenge the gender roles set for women during this time in American history. First, focusing on the character Edna Pontellier from the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin, and the way in which she breaks from the normal expectations of a housewife. At the beginning of the novel The Pontellier family seem to be the traditional happy aristocratic family living in New Orleans, Louisiana. During the nineteenth century women were expected to stay home and care for their children and husband. It is apparent that Edna Pontellier is not content to just be a housewife, but longs to pursuit her own interests. In Katherine Godinr’s synopsis of the novel she describes Ednar’s husband feeling that she is not like the other mothers around them. While her family is vacationing in Grand Isle, Louisiana she meets Robert Lebrun, a young and handsome man who she ultimately falls in love with. Before the relationship can grow into an affair, Robert leaves for a business trip to Mexico, which leaves Edna terribly saddened. When her family returns to their home in New Orleans, Edna decides to follow her own interests, and begins focusing on artwork. She no longer is fulfilling her obligations in their home, and socially. She ultimately realizes that she will not be happy in her marriage, and she cannot have a relationship with Robert. She walks onto the beach and into the water where her and Robert met, and commits suicide. Edna never gets to experience the romance filled relationship she longed for.

In comparison the character Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston also challenges the gender roles set for women during the twentieth century. This story is also set in the Southern region of the United States, and portrays the roles in which women of this region were expected to conduct themselves. The story follows Janie, an independent and strong willed woman, while she is searching for her true love through a series of marriages. Her first husband is chosen for Janie by her grandmother, but this marriage does not last long as he threatens to kill her and she runs away with the man who would become her second husband, Joe Starks. While Joe is handsome and charming, he expects Janie to follow the definition of her role as a woman and wife. This marriage does not satisfy Janie, as she is not fond of the ideals and norms of being a housewife that Joe demands of her. After a series of events, Joe succumbs to an illness and dies while Janie is left alone. After Joer’s death, Janie finally finds the man she has longed for, and falls in love with a man named Tea Cake. They have a seemingly happy marriage, aside from the jealousy they each feel. After a hurricane hits the Florida Everglades, where they call home, a dog with rabies bites Tea Cake while he is trying to protect Janie. He contracts rabies from the mad dog, and tries to shoot Janie in a state of madness. Janie kills him in self-defense is put on trial for murder, although she is acquitted and set free. Janie does find the relationship she was looking for, even though it ended tragically.

Both characters Edna and Janie fail to follow the rigid rules expected of women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of America. Women in the Southern region of the United States were expected to be housewives that cared and tended to their husbands and children. They were not to disobey or speak against their husbands throughout this time in American society. During this time in American history, women can gain power only through marriage, preferably to a rich and/or powerful man (Boyd).

As both stories take place in the South, there are major differences in which the two women experience the society around them. Although the stories take place in different centuries, the issue of race is still a major topic in American history. Edna and her husband, Leonce, have a typical marriage set in the New Orleans Creole society. The family experiences no racism through their status of wealth and power of the aristocratic society. They live among the socially elite, which have every necessity and desire available to them without conflict.

In contract, Janie is an African-American woman living in the Southern region of the United States, during the Jim Crow era of the twentieth century. Janie also experiences racism within her own black community because she is moderately white. The author, Zora Neale Hurston, describes the racism experienced from the white society, but she also points out there was racism within the black community as well. Janier’s character looks down on those in her all-black town of Eatonville who have a darker skin tone than her, feeling she is superior to them being only partially black. Hurston also uses Janier’s three marriages to convey the ways in which African-Americans were seeking equality during the Jim Crow era.

In Janier’s first marriage to Logan Killicks, she is treated like child who is expected to obey without question. The author uses this to show those in the African-American community who believed that they should just obey the laws set by white society, and not question the reasons or fight for change. The second marriage of Janie and Joe Starks, conveys that Janie is allowed to have a little more freedom, but is still expected to follow the rigid rules of female roles. Through this Hurston is conveying the message that some in the black community are willing to take some added freedoms from white society, but they are still held back by the segregation of public places. The final relationship between Janie and Tea Cake is of a more mutual understanding, but there are still tendencies of jealousy from both parties. This can also be said of the relationship between those in the white society who are willing to accept the African-Americans, but still have hidden racial emotions and tendencies.

In conclusion, the two novels The Awakening by Kate Chopin and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston have comparative and contrasting issues regarding life in America during their respective time periods. In both stories, the main characters struggle with conforming to the rigid gender roles expected of them during their times in American history. The contrasting difference between these two women are the ways in which they experienced racism in the Southern region of the United States.

Edna In The Awakening Novel

In Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, Edna, a strong, female character lead, ventures out of her comfort zone while breaking through the role appointed to her by society. Throughout the novel, Edna is seen discovering her own identity independent from her husband and children.  Edna is seen always harboring unrealistic dreams that cannot be satisfied, thus characterizing her as a rebellious and selfish adult. Edna’s life is symbolized through a series of parrots, mockingbirds, and seagulls that all form personal and metaphorical connections of freedom between Edna’s world and her eventual awakening in reality, resembling her literal imprisonment within this society..

        Throughout the novel, countless references are made specifically involving parrots. One of which being Madame Lebrun’s caged parrot that shrieks Allez vous-en! Sapristi (Chopin, 26) at Mr. Pontellier. Thus resembling Edna’s need to escape her middle-class life for freedom and space. Parrots are trained to only mimic what they’ve heard symbolizing Edna’s struggles to express herself because no one else does openly in this time period. This symbolizes Edna’s literal imprisonment in this society. In, Edna and the Woman Question, Jules Chametzky states the struggle is for the woman to free herself from being an object or possession defined in her functions, or owned, by others (Chametzky, 236) despite her middle-class advantages. Furthermore, Edna’s relation to parrots expands by their ability to silent themselves before being consigned to the regions of darkness (Chopin, 26). Only when a parrot’s cage is covered, does the parrot stay silent. This signifies Edna when she is with her family or husband. Otherwise, with the cage uncovered, a parrot has the right to speak. Such as to when Edna is alone, do her thoughts overcome her and she rebels.

Therefore, Edna is characterized as the parrot herself, while Mademoiselle Reisz is specifically characterized as a mockingbird. This is because Mademoiselle Reisz is Edna’s only friend who seems to understand her struggle in social and religious conventions. More specifically, Mademoiselle is seen playing the piano with songs that are not her own, such as a mockingbird who mimics sounds they hear. More precisely, the mocking-bird that hung on the other side of the door, whistling his flute notes out upon the breeze with maddening persistence (Chopin, 26) resembles Mademoiselle Reisz, herself. Instantly, in the beginning of the novel, both the parrot and mockingbird are seen being characterized as the same, trapped. However, the mockingbird also relates to Edna in several ways. Along with the parrot, the mockingbird is seen several times being shut-out, symbolizing, once again, Edna’s imprisonment in society. Edna finally begins to realize that there is more to the world then a perfect marriage or family. Furthermore, Edna begins making connections between herself and the birds. For example, Edna is characterized as the literal parrot herself, while the other women in this society are the mockingbird because Edna had the courage to speak the language that no one else could. Edna would attempt to be understood, but the other women would just answer back with any coherent reply, although they understood exactly what she was speaking of. This issue was, the other women in society felt too afraid to stand up for themselves as Edna did. Unfortunately, it eventually led Edna into the darkest state of mind.

Eventually, Edna feels isolated from society, loved ones, and herself. Which leads Edna out into the sea where A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water (Chopin, 116) with her. The broken-winged bird symbolizes Edna’s failure to fully free herself from this society. Edna’s wings were too weak to hold herself up above the water before fully submerging. Edna, throughout the story, is seen trapped within a male dominated society, where she is unable to escape. Edna was seen willing to take any risky actions just to free herself from this society. This is why critics describe Edna as a rebellious and selfish adult. Never did Edna have a care for her children, Edna only thought of herself escaping from society.

Overall, the birds symbolize Edna’s female figure in society which provides a greater mean of emphasis on the progression of Edna throughout the story. In the end, it becomes clear that Edna has no means to fully assimilate herself with the ideal of society. This concept leads Edna to the pigeon house where she is able to eventually overcome the strength of the social and religious conventions that entrap her. However, it is Edna’s isolation that leads Edna into her eventual awakening. It becomes clear that each bird was representing a new stage of Edna’s awakening into reality. Ultimately, Edna moves into the pigeon house, which provides Edna with the comfort and security the old house lacked. The pigeon house proves to hold great importance in Edna’s awakening journey because it signifies her quest for freedom and removal of herself from social order. The pigeon house allows Enda to feel, think, act, and dress how she wants too, without the worry of society. Unfortunately, Edna still struggles with leaving behind the society she was stuck in. Edna still had her husband, her children, her friends, and her other lovers that trapped her from every leaving. Due to Edna’s imprisonment in this society, it lead to Edna’s wings becoming too weak to hold herself up anymore, thus, leaving Edna to drown in her own worries.

An Analysis of The Awakening Chapter

In chapter fifteen, it is revealed that Robert decided to go on a trip to Mexico and is leaving that night. Edna is both shocked by the sudden news and the fact that Robert failed to tell her the decision himself. When Edna and Robert finally have a conversation about Robert’s sudden trip to Mexico, Robert avoids giving his reasoning and shows very little emotion when speaking to Edna. Robert’s distant behavior bothers Edna, and she sulks in the darkness after he leaves.

In the beginning of the passage, Edna tries to get Robert to tell her when he is coming back – or if he is even coming back at all. Robert avoids the question and fails to give Edna a definite answer. Chopin’s repetition of the words how long by Edna emphasizes Edna’s persistence to get an answer out of Robert. The persistence conveys both Edna’s feeling of worry that Robert will be gone long, but hope that he will not be. Edna repeating her question to Robert is her way of subtly asking Robert for some type of reassurance that he will come back. On the other hand, Chopin’s repetition of the vague phrase I don’t know implies that Robert is avoiding answering Edna’s question. Robert’s repetitive avoidance of the question after Edna asks it twice unveils that he is attempting to create a divide between himself and Edna by following society’s traditions. Edna is straying away from society’s traditions and is attempting to keep the bond she has with Robert, though it may be frowned upon.

Once Robert ignores Edna’s request for a definite answer, Edna calls Robert out on his distant behavior. Chopin’s strategy of Edna repeating Robert’s statement that neither wants to part in any ill humor emphasizes that, while both are taking different sides when it comes to society’s traditional rules, they both still try to think highly of each other. Neither wants to separate on a bad note. Chopin then has Edna reinforce a recurring theme that she’s grown used to seeing and having Robert with her more often, which is why she is upset with his departure. Chopin included this line to explain that Edna is having trouble separating from Robert on a good note because he offers her no reason as to why he is being unfriendly and unkind with her. Edna is confused as to why Robert is suddenly distant with her and she just wants an answer.

In the last few paragraphs, Roberts’s repetition of Good-by along with him addressing Edna as my dear Mrs. Pontellier hints that Robert is attempting to follow society’s rules and traditions, but isn’t fully assimilated into society trends. The repetition of Good-by reiterated the previous notion that Robert is distant with Edna to try and blend in with society. He is devoid of emotion with her, which is unusual since they have been spending almost every day together, and even addressed her formally by calling her Mrs. Pontellier instead of Edna. The one reason it can be inferred that Robert isn’t fully assimilated into society’s rules is when he called Edna my dear before addressing her formally. That phrase is Robert’s only form of feeling and affection towards Edna. In turn, Edna addresses Robert by his first name and even asks him to write to her, which emphasizes Edna trying to cling on to their relationship. The entire passage emphasizes Edna and Robert’s odd goodbye, and highlights that they both feel differently about society’s rules and influences on eachother.

Analysis Of The Awakening From Marxist Perspective

In The Awakening, by the author Kate Chopin can be analyzed from the Marxist perspective by the powerful ones being the men. The men are powerful because society portrays them as the head of the household, meaning its a patriarchal society. Society thinks that men should rule over their wives and have them under their control. The men display their power when their wives don’t do what they want.

For example, the husband of Edna, Leonce showed that power when he told Edna to come inside after she refused to leave the hammock several times. Society defined women as powerless by being submissive and attending their husbands and kids. The society tells the women to be wives and mothers before being independent. Most of the women have established with this view of women that they often submissively or happily play this role. For example, Adele seems to enjoy taking care and pleasuring his husband and children. She sees nothing wrong in this role and she in fact takes it in with pride.        

There is alienation in the powerless’ characters by the unmarried women and unhappy wives. In this case it’s Edna, a discontented wife, the widow, and Mademoiselle Reisz that are all seen weird by the society of both men and women. There is also unequal redistribution of wealth in the novel based on one’s race and ethnicity.

The main characters Pontelliers, Ratignolles, and Lebruns in the novel are Creoles and they all seem to be wealthy based on their homes, possessions, activities, and vacations. They are the less fortunate than other races, such as the mulattoes, the blacks, and the quadrooms, who all have domestic jobs under the Creoles. It means that those races are being portrayed like women inferior people. All the characters have their own amount of wealth and status based on race and ethnicity. In the case of Edna’s husband, Leonce he has time for his own, such as reading newspapers and go to the club. He has personal maids, cooks, and quadroon nurses at home. He also has paintings and sculptures at his house.

For example in the chapter it says that The Pontelliers possessed a very charming home on Esplanade Street in New Orleans. It was a large, double cottage.. The softest carpets and rugs covered the floors; rich and tasteful draperies hung at doors and windows

Also, in chapter , Mr. Pontellier reads the names of his clients’ wives, which might indicate that he is a businessman who may work for finance or investment. He is also overbearing because he orders his wife around when she doesn’t do as he wishes (Hammock incident). He shows detachment from his family by instead of spending time with them, he goes to the club, he doesn’t even care that Edna hangs out with Robert.

Also, he is demanding with Edna, because he scolds her for not leaving an excuse for not answering the Tuesday calls. Another powerful figure is Robert Lebrun, he is a Creole and he also appears to be wealthy in the novel. His mom owns and manages the cottages on Grand Isle where the Pontellier family stays during summer. So the wealth is in his family, but he doesn’t send his mom money from Mexico.