Analyzing Kate Chopin's 'The Awakening'

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Caroline Johnston Professor Leonard Appling American Literature II 9/16/15 Twain and Chopin In her most famous novel, The Awakening, Kate Chopin writes of her protagonist, “Even as a child she had lived her own small life within herself. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life - that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions.” Although Chopin is detailing the protagonist’s inward struggles due to her duties as a housewife, it does raise an interesting notion about how perceptions of people change. At one point in history, as illustrated in The Awakening, women were thought not to have their own independent thoughts or desires, and were valued merely as extensions of their husbands. At…show more content…
The Awakening is perhaps Chopin’s greatest portrayal of the way American women’s lives differed from men’s. At the time of publication, women were still considered property, and a Louisiana law even stated as much. The protagonist, Edna, is initially a demure, subservient woman, but after her mental and sexual ‘awakening,’ Edna becomes free. She begins making her own decisions, having her own beliefs, and thinking freely. Although women at the time were considered “Americans,” they were not truly treated as citizens; in many ways, The Awakening was Chopin’s attempt to change that. Perhaps it was Chopin’s intent to show that women, like men, had their own thoughts, needs, and desires. Chopin hoped to convey the parallels between all American women’s struggles and Edna’s struggle. Chopin showed that there was an unseen aspect of being an American, and that gender should have no impact on one’s status as a human being in American

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